Mark Doty extract

When it comes to posting daily or, at least, regular ‘enrichments’, which I am starting today, here is a passage from a book I love, given to me by my good friend Linda Moss. It is Still Life with Oysters and Lemon by the poet Mark Doty. Like Linda, I love everything I have read by Doty, not least this meditation on Dutch still life paintings, which is also part memoir. This book, written in Doty’s pellucid perceptive prose,  explores attention, what we are as humans, and our relationship with the life in things.

‘Here and gone. That’s what it is to be human, I think – to be both someone and no one at once, to hold a particular identity in the world (our names, our place of origins, our family and affectional ties) and to feel that solid set of ties also capable of dissolution, slipping away, as we become moments of attention. […]

[W]hat we are is attention, a quick physical presence in the world, a bright point of consciousness in a wide field from which we are not really separate. That, in a field of light, we are intensifications of that light.’


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