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Dutch Boy

To one side, the North Sea like lead,
to the other, tulips, too bright, too colorful,
and your finger hurts. You are tied
to the big belly of the dike, your finger
a reverse umbilicus that sucks the boyish
into responsible sea. My complaint concerns
childhood, the premature loss thereof.
Mother, from under one of her headaches, told me - cook dinner:
fish sticks, spaghetti sauce,
beef Wellington, hummingbird's tongue under glass.
How did I know we wouldn't wash away
like silt in the burst? The Provider,
the Protector, the Pleaser, Good Boy - 
it's ingrained like the fat that marbles 
choice beef. But there's no choice.
When the gloomy sea threatens, you're there
with your trusty finger. The bicycle lies forlorn
on the gravel bicycle path in the shadow of the dike.
The family windmill is brittle and blue as a scene on a plate.
Yet your other hand, the one with the free digit,
reaches for the painted flower heads
bobbing in their painted flowerbeds.

—Doug Dorph

from Too Too Flesh, Mudfish Individual Poet Series #3, 2000
Box Turtle Press, New York, NY

Copyright 2000 by Doug Dorph.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Box Turtle Press from Too Too Flesh, Mudfish Individual Poet Series #3, 2000. Copyright 2000 by Doug Dorph. For further permissions information, contact Mudfish / Box Turtle Press, 184 Franklyn Street, New York, NY 10013,

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Doug Dorph is the author of the poetry collection Too Too Flesh (Box Turtle Press, 2000). His poems have also appeared in numerous magazines and journals including The New Yorker.

Learn more about Doug Dorph at Mudfish.