Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Revving, Breathless Poem

If you've ever experienced the pangs of aging, you'll relate to this poem:

History of Desire

by Tony Hoagland

When you're seventeen, and drunk
on the husky, late-night flavor
of your first girlfriend's voice
along the wires of the telephone

what else to do but steal
your father's El Dorado from the drive,
and cruise out to the park on Driscoll Hill?
Then climb the county water tower

and aerosol her name in spraycan orange
a hundred feet above the town?
Because only the letters of that word,
DORIS, next door to yours,

in yard-high, iridescent script,
are amplified enough to tell the world
who's playing lead guitar
in the rock band of your blood.

You don't consider for a moment
the shock in store for you in 10 A.D.,
a decade after Doris, when,
out for a drive on your visit home,

you take the Smallville Road, look up
still scorched upon the reservoir.
This is how history catches up—

by holding still until you
bump into yourself.
What makes you blush, and shove
the pedal of the Mustang

almost through the floor
as if you wanted to spray gravel
across the features of the past,
or accelerate into oblivion?

Are you so out of love that you
can't move fast enough away?
But if desire is acceleration,
experience is circular as any

Indianapolis. We keep coming back
to what we are—each time older,
more freaked out, or less afraid.
And you are older now.

You should stop today.
In the name of Doris, stop.

"History of Desire" by Tony Hoagland, from Sweet Ruin.
© The University of Wisconsin Press, 1992.
Reprinted without permission.


Homeopath said...

Just found your blog...... Interesting.....I’ll be back to read more.

D.L. Hall said...

Thanks. I also checked out your blog and website and became a follower.

Stephanie said...

I adore that poem. Mind if I share it on my journal? (I don't keep up my Blogger, unfortunately, but I do have a LiveJournal.)

D.L. Hall said...

It's Tony Hoagland's poem...just make sure you give him credit! I'm happy you like it, too.