In her remarkable collection What the Living Do, Marie Howe follows the illness of her brother John, recounting her participation in his suffering. In the title poem, she addresses him after his death, enumerating the annoyances and frustrations of her daily life: clogged drains, breaking grocery bags, coffee-drenched shirtsleeves, and those unanswered wants her brother gave up. Yet in the poem's conclusion, she celebrates life itself.
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.
What the Living Do
Copyright 1998 by Marie Howe
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
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New York, N. Y. 10110
Neva Herrington is a poet and former educator. She is currently working on a new book of poetry, a collection of short stories, and her memoir. Her inspiration comes from her own experience and the work of other poets.