by Catherine Doty
Foreword by Baron Wormser
- ForeWord Book of the Year Bronze Award 2004
- Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist 2005
. . . a book of intense and affectionate metaphor. There are “dust storms/in the canister of sugar,” aquariums evolve inevitably into “twenty-five gallons of well-lit bouillabaisse,” and her father’s revving of an outboard motor mounted in an oil drum says all that can be said about going nowhere. The magical and the daily keep turning vividly into each other, and Doty can hardly decide which she loves more.
At its best, poetry manages the feat of being unerring and fallible at the same time, of communicating a simultaneous sense of the rich shakiness of the present moment and the hard weight of the past. Over and over, Catherine Doty succeeds in poems that are engaging, shrewd and brimming with actual feeling. When I write "actual" I mean neither emotionally tethered nor shouting but willing to endure and celebrate the real emotional skeins and stains that constitute real lives. She has the knack and she knows how to use it. —Baron Wormser
Employing brief, almost journalistic sketches punctuated by passionate language, Doty creates a virtual photo album that begins in 1960s Paterson, New Jersey . . . Personal as her poems are, they have the power to evoke memories in anyone who has ever been a child. Recalling her childhood home in Paterson, Doty celebrates those small, seemingly insignificant details that define not just a space but a life . . . —The New York Times
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CATHERINE DOTY is the recipient of the 2003 Marjorie J. Wilson Award, an Academy of American Poets Award, and fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She was born and raised in Garrett Mountain in Paterson, NJ and has taught thereabouts for many years.
A drinking buddy gave our dad an outboard motor.
Dad kept it, up to its orange chin in bilge,
in an oil drum, up in the yard, and, after a few,
he’d go out and start it up, yelling, Get back,
you kids!—but we were already back, and ready to bolt
if the green plastic men we’d thrown in up and busted the
But no tiny, acid-stripped skeletons churned to the surface;
the army remained at rest with the worms and the pear
All that spring, when he felt good, he’d go watch his
his nostrils straining to catch each oily fume,
a Chesterfield dropping ash down the front of his work
Once Shaky Louie, his pal, braved the terrible sunlight
to join him in motor watching, and, chatty by nature,
told us Dad had said soon that our freezer’d be so full of
there wouldn’t be room left for even one skinny Popsicle.
By August we’d scrawled ss dad on the slimy oil drum,
but he never noticed, just stood in the din, smoking,
He never did lug that motor out of the oil drum—
he let winter do in the only toy he had, though it spat
muddy rainbows and roared like a locomotive,
and gave off the piercing and molten stink of hope.