“double / back again”
It’s the line break that caught my attention in the poem “Essay: The Love of Old Houses” by Mark Doty
here it’s proved that time requires
a deeper, better verb than pass;
it’s more like pool, and ebb, and double
back again, my history, his, yours,
I first encountered the poem in fire to fire and learnt it came from the collection Source where the information is supplied about an earlier version in the periodical Witness.
Witness was not in any of the libraries I frequent (a university research library and a public library). And back issues are sold out. One kind soul supplied me with images of the Doty poem in Love in America Vol. XIII No. 2 (1999). Here transcribed:
that time requires a deeper, better
verb than pass; it’s more like pool,
and ebb, and double back again,
my history, his, and yours
The enjambement in the later version “double / back again” is more like the flow of a fish arcing its back than the unbroken “double back again” and is more in keeping with the theme of ebb and pool. The new placement of the italicized pass at line’s end lends it more prominence and its cusp position lends it a greater note of transience. As well, the addition of a comma after “yours” orchestrates the linkage into the next stanza.
subsumed into the steadying frame
of a phrase I love: a building
both noun and verb, where we live
and what we do: fill it with ourselves,
And retroactively we sense that pass too is a noun, a place of the going through, much like a line of poetry.
Credit to Doty for inviting a peek at the poet’s workshop (he writes at the beginning of Source that earlier versions appeared).
And thanks to Joseph Langdon, Managing Editor, Witness, for providing me with images of the Witness variants.
And so for day 1025