Southern Comfort

Celebrated poet Mark Doty succumbs to Houston’s humid charms

Amid the city’s ribbons of freeway and corporate spires, says the author, the sky offers "a huge, open relief." (Erin Trieb/ Getty Images)
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Whatever they are—our hopes, successes and mistakes—they're put in perspective by what Shakespeare called "this brave o'erhanging firmament." When the clouds conjoin and a storm pushes up from the Gulf, look out. I've seen a tornadic tropic fury pour in, tingeing the day an evil green, and the whole city suddenly resembles some underwater kingdom. Wiser drivers pull over and wait for the storm to pass. The foolhardy plunge forward, plowing through channels of rainwater filling the intersections. Sometimes whole school buses float away. Everyone hopes for reprieve. Which won't be long in coming, so that we can forget about the sky and return to the theater of our aspirations, the daily traffic, this new city's strange promises and invitations.

Mark Doty's most recent books include Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems and his memoir Dog Years. In November 2008, Doty received the National Book Award for poetry for Fire to Fire.


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