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Tuesday February 21, 2017
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Marie Howe

 

continued

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]    (end of article)

 

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