Monday, February 6, 2012

Poetry Monday: Marie Howe

I almost missed Monday.  Actually in Australia I did - it's well and truly Tuesday here. My only excuse is that I've just had a release date for my new novel Black Cow (24 Feb!), and there's been a load of work to do to get my website ready with links and early reviews, and excerpts, a book tour  - more on that soon.  Nevertheless, there's never a good excuse for skipping poetry, and this week I've been reading Marie Howe's phenominal What the Living Do. I first came across this poem when my uncle recited the whole thing to me, completely from memory, on a visit to the US a few years ago. The poem stayed with me, as good poems do, while I unclogged my own kitchen sink, spilled coffee (tea) on myself, and remembered that I too, with a shiver of speechless cherishing, am still alive. For more of Marie, visit her website:

What the Living Do 
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. 

1 comment:

  1. Lovely. Thanks for sharing. And congratulations on your upcoming release!