In Heaven’s Coast, a literary AIDS memoir by Mark Doty, many things help him deal with his grief over the loss of his partner to AIDS, however it is the presence of flora that helps Doty move through his grief, providing beauty and structure in his life. A pine grove he discovers on a walk feels like home, with energy radiating from the blooms, reflective of the energy that he longs to have back in his life. His own garden provides a large source of comfort because it is one of the aspects in his life that he knows he can control fully, and not having control is one of the biggest difficulties he faces during Wally’s decline. Surrounded by full blooms in an Italian countryside villa some time after Wally’s death, these scents and sights make him feel as if he is finally living in the present. In this unusually poetic AIDS memoir, it is the beauty and calm flora provides that allows Doty to progress through his grief and come to the realization that he wants to move forward.
Claire Parrish, ’10 Kendall, WI
Majors: History, English
Sponsor: Michelle Mouton