Poem of the Week


Allyson Paty

Compelled to admire the manicured gardens of pathological control,

I walk narrowly, on a wet day, clutching a pet disdain

and in my hands an umbrella, a good one, although unstylish,

a double balm, as a gift and for its lawns of Central Park in Spring

aglow on polyester. From watercolor grass rise boulders,

among them, a rock I named in childhood (for a glacial ridge

and a dense spot of mica) The Golden-Eyed Dinosaur.

Today I woke my worst, wanting nothing but blamelessness,

the coward’s lonely itch. If I must be, I’d choose poolside repose,

strung evenly over an hour, concrete and bromine, ice against glass,

but I’d settle for the feminized space of a nail salon, rich, too,

in fumes and pleasant boredom, where someone holds my fingers.

You can pay for that, not even much. No one will ask me to account

for comfort wrested from labor, nor for the pull toward self-decoration,

but the fact pervades with the stingy sun seeping through my scrim

in green. In language rinsed of god, mercy. Before me on the sidewalk,

three trench-coated figures bow their plastic rain-bonneted heads.

Without analogy, the statuary I join them to compose.

Allyson Paty is the author of several chapbooks, including Five O’clock on the Shore. She is cofounding editor of Singing Saw Press, associate director of NYU Gallatin’s Writing Program, and a teacher in NYU's Prison Education Program.
Originally published:
January 12, 2022


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