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Dear Suburb

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I’m not interested in sadness,
just a yard as elder earth,
a library of sunflowers
battered by the night’s rain.
When sliced wide, halved at dawn,
I can see how you exist,
O satellite town, your bright possibility
born again in drywall
and the diary with the trick lock.
Hardly held, for years I slept
with my window wide open,
wanting screen-cut threads of rain.
Blind suburb, dear untruth,
you who already know what I mean
when I praise every spared copse,
you were my battery, my sad clue,
but after I mowed the lawn
and watched robins chesting
for seeds I couldn’t resist
what hung in the toolshed,
where, with a pair of garden shears
I cut all the hair from my arms. That need,
that scared need to whiten
or clean a surface: plywood or lawn,
and the spywall behind which I stood,
stock-still, and sinned against
the fly’s flyness. Though you live
inside me, though you laid eggs
in the moisture at the corners
of my eyes, I still dream about
your sinking empire twenty feet above
sea level, and the many things
you never see: beautiful bleached
gas can, tomato posts bent into art,
how half of a butterfly, cut crosswise,
still looks like a butterfly, etc.
Source: Poetry (December 2009)

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This poem originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

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Dear Suburb

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  • David Roderick grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts. At Colby College, where he earned his BA, he studied American Studies and creative writing. He earned an MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and also studied poetry at Stanford University as a Wallace Stegner fellow.
    Roderick’s first book, Blue Colonial (2006), was chosen by Robert Pinsky as winner of the APR/Honickman Prize. Set in Plymouth, the book uses dramatic and narrative effects to explore the burdens of historical inheritance: vanished Native American tribes, the seeds of American culture, and our physical and psychological encroachment upon the natural landscape.
    The Pitt Poetry Series published Roderick’s second book, The Americans, in 2014. Poet and critic David Rivard writes of The Americans: “Like Robert Frank in his great photo essay of the same name, Roderick has some news for us: not only do we not know where we’ve come from, we don’t know where we are. With care and a restorative watchfulness,...

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