Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, GOOD-BYE DOROTHY GAYLE: ST. CLOUD, MINNESOTA, by KAREN SWENSON



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GOOD-BYE DOROTHY GAYLE: ST. CLOUD, MINNESOTA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A small square with elms
Last Line: "but she does. She has to."
Subject(s): Memory; Mothers & Daughters


... it is the recognition that human life cannot, after all, be
subsumed
within nature's annual course which, along with that affirmation of
nature's sympathy for man, defines the pastoral elegist's vision of
death.

Ellen Z. Lambert, Placing Sorrow

A small square with elms
trying to reduce the sky
to a manageable portion,
a bandstand baroque in its wooden Victorian swags.
The children are muted on swings;
couples stroll in each other's arms;
a man, belly billowing over his belt,
drinks his beer to Sousa's beat;
a woman next to him knits in time.

"I told you," says a boy beside the swings
in the growing darkness swooped by bats,
"we're stronger than them
'cause girls have to have babies."

She taught me to curl a dandelion
by splitting the stem
and pushing my tongue against the bitter fork
until green ringlets came in my spit.

Her face like a withered viburnum against the pillow -
"Why are men so mean?
That young woman next door works all day
and then she cooks and cleans."
"She doesn't have to, Mother."
"But she does. She has to."





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