I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting in picking up a copy of Mark Doty’s DOG YEARS. I’m writing about dogs, writing in the voice of dogs, Shelby (my daughter’s dog) in particular. I liked the cover, warm, welcoming image of a golden retriever. And then page 1, “No dog ever said a word, but that doesn’t mean they live outside the world of speech. They listen acutely. They wait to hear a term–biscuit, walk–and an inflection they know… Because they do not speak, except in the most limited fashion, we are always trying to figure them out…”
Then, browsing, flipping pages, I come across lines that say something about the nature of lyric poetry, elegaic poetry. “I did, after all, grow up with apocalyptic Christians who believed the end was near, and that this phenomenal world was merely a veil soon to be torn away. This is great training for a lyric poet concerned with evanescence.”
And if ever there was a book concerned with evanescence, this is it.