My Life

By Mark Strand b. 1934 Mark Strand
The huge doll of my body   
refuses to rise.
I am the toy of women.   
My mother

would prop me up for her friends.   
“Talk, talk,” she would beg.
I moved my mouth
but words did not come.

My wife took me down from the shelf.   
I lay in her arms. “We suffer
the sickness of self,” she would whisper.   
And I lay there dumb.

Now my daughter
gives me a plastic nurser
filled with water.
“You are my real baby,” she says.

Poor child!
I look into the brown   
mirrors of her eyes   
and see myself

diminishing, sinking down
to a depth she does not know is there.   
Out of breath,
I will not rise again.

I grow into my death.
My life is small
and getting smaller. The world is green.   
Nothing is all.

Mark Strand, “My Life” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1979, 1980 by Mark Strand. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Source: Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1990)

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Poet Mark Strand b. 1934

Subjects Parenthood, Men & Women, Infancy, Relationships, Home Life, Growing Old, Marriage & Companionship, Living, Family & Ancestors

 Mark  Strand

Biography

Mark Strand is recognized as one of the premier contemporary American poets as well as an accomplished editor, translator and prose writer. The hallmarks of his style are precise language, surreal imagery, and the recurring theme of absence and negation; later collections investigate ideas of the self with pointed, often urbane wit. Named the U.S. Poet Laureate in 1990, Strand’s career has spanned nearly four decades, and he has . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Parenthood, Men & Women, Infancy, Relationships, Home Life, Growing Old, Marriage & Companionship, Living, Family & Ancestors

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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