Today I read a report, and the legend attached
to its registry of names: threatened, endangered,
extinct—and the giddy blur of the boy I was
at twelve sundered me with his distant bliss
of killing jars and pins, his trawling nets
above the zinnias where hairstreaks and skippers
caught the slanting sun like marionettes
on a carnival stage—all of it now a faded
diorama in which my father bends
with his dusting can to smudge the garden beds
and rid gnawed-at greens of summer’s bane.
So many hungers fed those childhood hours.
Satyr, wood-nymph, clouded sulfur… How
does a man admit greed and disregard,
or pinpoint the day he learned to give excuse,
give it wings, and call it Aspiration,
Desire, Need, then clamp the lid and twist it
tight on stifling fruit-sweet fumes? Pearly
eye, tawny emperor, Karner blue…
you among the tallied, splayed and labeled,
what absolution can there be this side
of forgetting you ever existed?
Richard Foerster’s eighth collection, Boy on a Doorstep: New and Selected Poems (Tiger Bark Press, 2019), received the 2020 Poetry by the Sea Book Award. Foerster’s other honors include the “Discovery”/The Nation Award, Poetry’s Bess Hokin Prize, a Maine Arts Commission Fellowship, the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, and two National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowships. He lives in Eliot, Maine.