I am an appreciator of poetry but have little critical insight. I understand what is written and sometimes if I mull on it for a while I understand what is not written but most of the subtleties are probably lost on me.
My daily poetry tutorial consists of Garrison Keillor's Writer's Alamanc on the radio during morning drives. Several years ago Garrison read a poem called Memory that stuck with me until I got home, googled and copied it to my list of favorite poems.
Yesterday when I heard that Hayden Carruth had died I thought that perhaps he had written that haunting poem--he had.
"Memory," by Hayden Carruth from Doctor Jazz (Copper Canyon Press).
A woman I used to know well died
A week ago. Not to be mysterious:
She and I were married. I'm told
She fell down dead on a street in
Lower Manhattan, and I suppose
She suffered a stroke or a heart attack.
The last time I saw her was in the spring
Of 1955, meaning forty-four
Years ago, and now when I try
To imagine her death I see in my
Mind a good-looking, twenty-nine-
Year-old woman sprawled on the pavement.
It does no good to go and examine
My own ravaged face in the bathroom
Mirror; I cannot transpose my ravage-
Ment to her. She is fixed in my mind
As she was. Brown hair, brown eyes,
Slender and sexy, coming home
From her job as an editor in a huge
Building in midtown. Forty-four
Years is longer than I thought. My dear,
How could you have let this happen to you?