The Pequod Review:
Mark Doty's partner (Wally Roberts) was one of the early victims of AIDS, and Doty's memoir Heaven's Coast traces the period from Wally's HIV diagnosis in 1989 through his death in 1994. Doty is an extraordinary stylist, with rich and precise prose that has a timeless beauty. Here he describes a moment from their last Christmas together, when a winter storm blew snow into an open window:
We were englobed, inside the shook heart of a paperweight. Our room, which already felt outside the rush and pour of things, seemed still further set aside in space and time. In memory, that snow spins still; our laughter and our wonder in the storm’s interior, lovers suddenly stunned into recognizing how small what’s divided and troubled them has been, how lovely their singular, flake-streaked moment is.
And here he describes the Cape Cod landscape near their home:
Walking on the shore, what do I stand on but the vast, accumulated evidence of death? What do I confront, day after day, but death and death?... At low tide it’s entirely dry, a Sahara of patterned sand and the tough green knots of sea lavender, beach grass around the edges of the beds of the tidal rivers gleaming as it bends and catches light along the straps of its leaves. As the tide mounts, twice a day, this desert disappears beneath the flood. It is a continuous apocalypse; Sahara becomes sea becomes sand again, in a theatre of furious mutability.