Poetry Friday: “Twisted Like Dogwood”

During my early years of blogging on Xanga, I remember “Poetry Friday” being one of my favorite weekly traditions. Sometimes, people posted their own poetry. Occasionally, I would come across T.S. Eliot or Wallace Stevens or Sylvia Plath in my newsfeed. I have been thinking about keeping up with this tradition on my blog, because I find myself more immersed in poetry these past couple of years than ever before. I am even dedicating myself to a study involving William Blake, which is beyond frightening.

Today, I want to share a poem called “Twisted like Dogwood” by Rebecca Latour published in the Kenyon Review. Dogwoods have been blooming here lately, and I found myself thinking of Latour’s poem this past week while buying red wine at a nearby liquor shop in a blue dress. An unusual experience.

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Twisted like Dogwood

by Rebecca Latour

Mornings he lies under the bridge
pretending the sky is black—
and when boys stand atop the bridge, making wishes,
eyes pinched closed,
flicking pennies into ripples of the river,
he dips his hand into the water to catch them—
and when a penny slides
through his fingers, slinking into sand,
there is no going after it.
Sometimes he sits on the bench
and begs under the dogwood twisting
through the concrete. And a boy sits next to him.
He asks, got what you wanted, didn’t you?
(even when there is nothing worth looking for)
and the boy says mister?
and he says well, as long as you got what you wanted.
And, together, the two of them watch
a woman, tall and beautiful, walk into
the liquor store on the corner, and walk out
with a bottle of red wine:
and her hair—black as sky, twisted like dogwood,
her eyes glistening like pennies.
And he says, you know that lady in there,
what’s her name, that little lady from the liquor store?

and the boy says it’s all on the other side
but the wind carries her off.
And he rolls back his head, the sun shining in his eyes,
as if it were the only answer
the world could give.