I’m reading Raymond Carver and thinking of my friend Michael
not just because he recommended Carver to me, but also because
when he is in his stride, Michael writes like Carver. I call it confessional
poetry. I wrote lots of it. Until I got tired of seeing “I” all the time.
A quick aside: I once read about a man who wrote a novel whose
entire content consisted of words that did not include the letter “I”.
I can relate. Nonetheless, there is something in the delicacy of Carver’s/ Michael’s ruminations, memories, crows, cars and moments of paradise,
all these tangents — they really create something out of moments
that may, or may not, have ever happened. They keep you guessing that way.
So, I’m reading Carver, and I realize, dammit, the man has just written a poem,
gone to another plane, taken a little diary from his existence – and I am hostage
to him: I will watch the man race for his life across the bridge
that crumbles behind him. We will stare, excited, scared and transfixed, cheer
for him, certain he will fall, anticipate the carnage, secretly pray he makes it.
Except, as the last trestle falls into the gorge, he stands upon the other side,
triumphant, his arm raised in tribute to us—the unbelievers, the small,
the afraid, his readers, and we think, after something like that, you can look
back, reflect, and say to yourself, it must feel good to get that all written down.
Because it means something. No goddammit – no, in fact – it means everything.