Here's an example of what I mean from "Memorial," a poem near the end of What the Living Do. The poem describes the illness and death of another young man, Billy:
| and something began to move through the room, |
as if energy were
rising, like thickening air,
as if spirit were pleasure
pushing through the room, through
even our faces,
a molecular, invisible . . .
If this was Billy
he was so vast
the way one field leads onto another,
vast to have been contained
all that time, in that body,
a nearly unendurable joy
a steady outpouring for over an hour
so that when the men came back from dinner they found
Billy dead in the sheets
and the three of us almost drunkenly smiling.
That seems to me to be an exact presentation of moments I have had watching my loved ones die a moment that mixes grief with something else I haven't been able to define. This poet helps me understand it.
Marie Howe reads from her poetry at a campus location TBA on Monday, January 22.
[Review published January 2007]