Where Water Comes Together with Other Water [ePub]

by Raymond Carver

Carver's poetry is much like Carver's prose: spare yet evocative, and that Hemingway-esque rhythm of the short declarative sentence, punctuation so often at the end of lines that I found myself wondering if this was really poetry at all, or just lists, short-shorts in the guise of poetry.(I tend to feel that they're more the latter.)It's not typically what I'd seek out in poetry.But Carver is evocative for me in a way that Hemingway is not, and the stories he tells in his poems are haunting and memorable.There's "Wenas Ridge," in which the narrator's friend is struck at (but missed) by a rattlesnake, leaving the narrator to confess:

This was the moment
my life had prepared me for.And I wasn't ready.
. . . Jesus, please help me
out of this, I prayed. I'll believe in you again
and honor you always. But Jesus was crowded out
of my head by the vision of that rearing snake.
That singing. Keep believing in me, snake said,
for I will return. I made an obscure, criminal pact
that day. Praying to Jesus in one breath.
To snake in the other. Snake finally more real
to me.

Or there's "Happiness in Cornwall," in which a family hires a maid for their widower father, and the end of the poem finds him "listening to her read poetry/in the evenings in front of the fire. Tennyson, Browning,/Shakespeare, Drinkwater. Men/whose names take up space/on the page."Dozens upon dozens of little stories with Carver's wry commentary and philosophical musings, like in "The Juggler at Heaven's Gate":

. . . What's his story?
That's the story I want to know. Anybody
can wear a gun and swagger around. Or fall in love
with somebody who loves somebody else. But to juggle
for God's sake!To give your life to that.
To go with that.Juggling.

And then there's "Aspens.""Aspens," which I will write down and stick to my wall—a lovely, winding tale of loneliness that ebbs and flows, that takes on some cosmic significance and then reduces down to its own ash again.

God bless Carver for proving that the story can be a poem, the poem can be a story, that poetry has room for prosaic narrative after all.

16.10.2011

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