Mark Doty’s Theories and Apparitions contains four Theories of Beauty, two Theories of Marriage, Theories of the Soul, Multiplicity, Narrative, the Sublime and Incompletion, five Apparitions and another eight poems along similar themes. This kind of duplication often bugs me, but this seems to work really well. I’m not familiar with Doty’s work before this, his eighth collection. I want to say his style is a bit narrative and a bit stream of consciousness, but I’m not entirely sure I even know what that means. There’s a three page poem about a never ending massage, and a lovely sequence about listening to some music that you never want to end.
I like this one though. Not just because it’s short and thus less typing – honest! I don’t even like pets, but I’m intrigued by what he’s exploring through them.
Theory of Marriage (The Hug)
Arden would turn his head toward the one
he loved, Paul or me, and look downward,
and butt the top of his skill against us, leaning forward,
hiding his face, disappearing into what he’d chosen.
Beau had another idea. He’d offer his rump
for scratching, and wag his tail while he was stroked,
returning that affection by facing away, looking out
toward whatever might come along to enjoy.
Beau had no interest in an economy of affection;
why hoard what you can give away?
Arden thought you should close your eyes
to anything else; only by vanishing
into the beloved do you make it clear:
what else is there you’d want to see?