[Over a cup of coffee]

By Stephen Dobyns b. 1941 Stephen Dobyns
Over a cup of coffee or sitting on a park bench or
walking the dog, he would recall some incident
from his youth—nothing significant—climbing a tree
in his backyard, waiting in left field for a batter's
swing, sitting in a parked car with a girl whose face
he no longer remembered, his hand on her breast
and his body electric; memories to look at with
curiosity, the harmless behavior of a stranger, with
nothing to regret or elicit particular joy. And
although he had no sense of being on a journey,
such memories made him realize how far he had
traveled, which, in turn, made him ask how he
would look back on the person he was now, this
person who seemed so substantial. These images, it
was like looking at a book of old photographs,
recognizing a forehead, the narrow chin, and
perhaps recalling the story of an older second
cousin, how he had left long ago to try his luck in
Argentina or Australia. And he saw that he was
becoming like such a person, that the day might
arrive when he would look back on his present self
as on a distant relative who had drifted off into
uncharted lands.

Source: Poetry (December 2001).


This poem originally appeared in the December 2001 issue of Poetry magazine

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December 2001
 Stephen  Dobyns


Stephen Dobyns has published over 10 volumes of poetry, including Concurring Beasts (1972), The Balthus Poems (1982), Cemetery Nights (1987), Velocities: New and Selected Poems (1994), and Pallbearers Envying the One Who Rides (1999). Of the governing style of his work over time, Dobyns noted in a recent interview, “If there’s a consistency in any of the books, it’s the fact that I like a long line . . . [and] use the linebreak . . .

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Poems by Stephen Dobyns

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Growing Old, Time & Brevity, Living, Youth

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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