“In the Community Garden” by Mark Doty

It’s almost over now,

late summer’s accomplishment,

and I can stand face to face


with this music,

eye to seed-paved eye

with the sunflowers’ architecture:


such muscular leaves,

the thick stems’ surge.

Though some are still


shiningly confident,

others can barely

hold their heads up;


their great leaves wrap the stalks

like lowered shields. This one

shrugs its shoulders;


this one’s in a rush

to be nothing but form.

Even at their zenith,


you could see beneath the gold

the end they’d come to.

So what’s the use of elegy?


If their work

is this skyrocket passage

through the world,


is it mine to lament them?

Do you think they’d want

to bloom forever?


It’s the trajectory they desire—

believe me, they do

desire, you could say they are


one intent, finally,

to be this leaping

green, this bronze haze


bending down. How could they stand

apart from themselves

and regret their passing,


when they are a field

of lifting and bowing faces,

faces ringed in flames?


“In the Community Garden” by Mark Doty, fromFire to Fire. © Harper Collins, 2008. Reprinted with permission.

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