Published on Academy of American Poets (

Doha Thing Long Thought and Kind

A gift is a risk. Let roses be the prodrome.
It’s like it dropped a gold and a silver

ring with its name on it
in my brain. That was the gift

before the storm. It sent you a stumbling
block. Just scribble yes or no

on the form. Now every time the doorbell
rings I think someone’s sent me one.

A gift is a guess. Did it come close?
It’s what you need most

that turns you nerve side out. Right
now I think I’m growing something

long thought and kind of
clumsy. Just wrap it in drafts with awk

in the margins. Stuff it
in a wooden pillow with a drawer.

A gift is a task. It could be oxblood
or puce. You have to decide

whether to send those flowers that drop
whole from the stem or

the ones whose petals fall one
by one. You know how rain will

turn the roses nerve side out?
A gift is a test. They need to know that.

When she wrote their thorns
are the best part of them I can’t begin

to tell you how many kinds of
right she was. Now I think I’m growing

something long thought
to be the prerogative of certain

entitled individuals. Wings
or thorns. When all I wanted was

a more subtle pulse
at the throat bone. Well what size

do you wear? I am smelting you a surprise.
Not another luminous lyre

cum lint remover. Take it
from me. If you depend on gifts

for what you need you’ll end up with
a gold and a silver shoe both

for the same lame foot.


Copyright © 2015 by Alice Fulton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 22, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“Doha, a traditional Indian form, features aphoristic couplets offering spiritual wisdom—sometimes in a dialogic, call and response pattern. While my poem strays far from classical examples, it does contain a counterpoint akin to a teacher/disciple dialogue. Of course, both voices can exist within the same person when the mind argues with itself. Generally, this doha poem is interested in the mysterious provenance and power of gifts as well as the ‘noise’ or humor of friendly attempts to advise.”
Alice Fulton


Alice Fulton

Alice Fulton was born and raised in Troy, New York. She is the author of several books of poetry, including Barely Composed (W. W. Norton, 2015).

Date Published: 2015-04-22

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