A Note on Raymond Carver’s Poem

20. February 2017 Blog 0

Woke up early this morning and from my bed
looked far across the Strait to see
a small boat moving through the choppy water,
a single running light on. Remembered
my friend who used to shout
his dead wife’s name from hilltops
around Perugia. Who set a plate
for her at his simple table long after
she was gone. And opened the windows
so she could have fresh air. Such display
I found embarrassing. So did his other
friends. I couldn’t see it.
Not until this morning.

Grief by Raymond Carver

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When you express your grief, many people get very uncomfortable. Like when someone cries in public, people turn away, embarrassed for them. “I couldn’t see it” writes Carver. “Not until this morning.” One wonders what the narrator experienced that gave him sudden clarity. The most obvious assumption is that he lost someone, likely his partner. Now he “sees”. I haven’t always been that open about expressing my emotions. Despite having been a performer, I’m not an exhibitionist by nature. But after Susan died I guess I stopped caring about decorum. The week before she died, Susan said, “Why do we not do the things we really want to do? We’re so worried about what people will think. We should do everything we want. Eat whatever we want. See who we want to see. Say whatever we want to say. It’s the only thing that matters.” She was at a place where she could “see”. Now there’s been enough time since the “event” that people are starting to get that “is he ever going to get over it” attitude. No one says it outright. But there are insinuations. Passive aggressive comments. And that subtle tension that comes from someone being embarrassed or uncomfortable with my emotional transparency. My old nature is starting to resurface and, likewise, I feel at moments a little embarrassed myself. I wonder if maybe I should reign it in. But I don’t see an upside to that. I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yams. People can stay or they can leave. Just don’t feel embarrassed for me. I have nothing but pride in this human being that I am. And there is no getting over this. There is no moving past it. There is only learning to live with it. On a daily basis. For the rest of my life.


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