Mark Doty’s Firebird


Last night I was finishing up Mark Doty’s memoir Firebird before I went to sleep, and there’s a section where he talks about a friend he makes in one of the many places he lives.  She’s over at his house for lunch and his mother serves them Swanson chicken potpies.  The little girl (skinny, frail) tells Doty that at her house, they’d split one of the potpies between the whole family, and Doty imagines the crimped crust cut into tiny slivers.  But I particularly liked what he said about the potpies themselves: that they were “bland childhood comfort food.”

Incidentally, the book is fantastic.  I might be a poet, but I usually really dislike super-poetic prose.  It can so often seem flowery and self-important.  Doty’s book reins in this tendency, though, and the snapshot-y quality of the short sections is offset by the clarity of the writing.