I didn't know about Jack Gilbert's poetry until a couple of years ago and then became hooked. I don't know what to say about him that wouldn't come across as superlative. His poems inspire me with their lack of ornamentation and their "rightness." I want to say "precision" but that's just too technical and connotatively wrong. There doesn't seem to be any extra here: no space filling, no easy gestures. I really wish Views of Jeopardy, Monolithos, and Kochan were in print (or not prohibitively expensive to buy used.) Someone needs to convince Graywolf that such an omnibus edition is a stellar idea. There's precedence for this, with Linda Gregg's first two books and their Collected Poems of Lynda Hull kicking off their Re/View series. Anyway, on to the poem.
I came back from the funeral and crawled
around the apartment, crying hard,
searching for my wife's hair.
For two months got them from the drain,
from the vacuum cleaner, under the refrigerator,
and off the clothes in the closet.
But after other Japanese women came,
there was no way to be sure which were
hers, and I stopped. A year later,
repotting Michiko's avocado, I find
a long black hair tangled in the dirt.