What the Living Do

What the Living Do  
by Marie Howe

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 
I am living. I remember you.
I loved this poem so much when I read it that I bought the whole book. 
I read and re-read it.


Caatje said…
This is beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing.

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