A Hollyhock… + The Fifteen-Year-Old Dog…
A Hollyhock That Once Belonged to Stanley Kunitz
Later that week I found it in my right side
pocket. It had begun to bloom, blue. Tissuey soft.
To the bottle of carbolic acid went your father.
To brain plaque, the weed of forgetfulness,
went your mother. Still you felt a fondness
for the natural thing, you loved even the mulch,
and the flower of the mallow family, hollyhock.
Come in, you said. From one specimen of the garden
you cut me a sprig, which I pocketed. Banished
from light, from you, from its princedom, a small
Gautama. Then I forgot it was there, down
there in the dark, doing its precise work anyway.
The Fifteen-Year-Old Dog That Surrenders Is
The tongue hangs fat to lick the air,
gray and dry as a gag. Your whole life
you panted after whojustcameherenow,
a bone over there you could smell before
you could see, the wide patch of yard
and a figure of a hart darting in a feral
blur through trees. The joy when some
hand behind you lets go and sends you
running down the open snowy road,
and you are yourself again or for the first
time. Though now what use is there
to tense the metal leash. Now to learn
to work the new trick: one who waits.
It was long ago you learned to stand
off. You learned to stand for nothing.
That was the beginning of your training.
That was when the sky was your whole head.
Now to go on. And to go on. To become
the sick mule, the tagged skin, gnawed bone.
To learn the first art with more willingness,
and then to sit, lie down.