Listened to Terry Gross' Fresh Air interview with poet Marie Howe. They covered many topics, but most centered around death: the death of her younger brother, Johnny; the death of her mother; and the death of her first true boyfriend from high school.
I was moved by her poems, she read three or four on air, and by her view of poetry, that the essence of poem is what cannot be expressed in words, its silent voice.
Her poem What the Living do is about her brother Johnny who was dying because of AIDS. She originally wrote it not as a poem, but as a letter to her brother...
Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there. And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up
waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of. It's winter again: the sky's a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through
the open living-room windows because the heat's on too high in here and I can't turn it off. For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,
I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,
I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it. Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.
What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss--we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass, say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless: I am living. I remember you.
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