Trying to work out these new poems, looking at old poems to sequence for a chapbook, I'm caught up thinking about why I love poetry, what I want my poems to do, and ultimately what I think poetry is. At some point I might do a full-fledged post or series of posts about this but I think for now I might just post the occasional poem that has been crucial to me, necessary in my life and development as a poet. Tonight's poem is from Marie Howe's What the Living Do.
Andy sees us to the door, and suddenly Buddy is all over him, leaping
and barking because Andy said: walk. Are you going to walk home?
To me. And Buddy thinks him and now, and he's wrong. He doesn't
understand the difference between sign and symbol like we do--the thing
and the word for the thing, how we can talk about something when
even there, without it actually happening--the way I talk about John.
Andy meant: soon. He meant me. As for Buddy, Andy meant: later.
was good and ready, he said. Buddy doesn't understand. He's in a state
of agitation and grief, scratching at the door. If one of us said, Andy,
when Andy wasn't there, that silly Buddy would probably jump up
and begin looking for him.