Marie Howe

(1950 / Rochester, New York / United States)

What the Living Do - Poem by Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat's on too high in here and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

Comments about What the Living Do by Marie Howe

  • (3/6/2016 10:56:00 PM)

    A beautifully penned account of daily routine along with a sense of missing the presence of the loved one who had already left for the heavenly abode. Thanks for sharing.10 points. (Report) Reply

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  • Susan Williams (3/6/2016 7:48:00 PM)

    She has written a very original poem here. Her Johnny is dead and she muddles through the irritations of everyday life and plumbing and such without him and everything reminds her that he is not there and just the everyday problems have become mountains. The everyday kind of mourning has been immortalized by this wise woman. (Report) Reply

  • (3/6/2016 12:07:00 PM)

    I really like this poem. Remembering, - what the living do. (Report) Reply

  • Savita Tyagi (3/6/2016 11:18:00 AM)

    Routine life and it's drama written so well. Makes a great poem! (Report) Reply

  • Kim Barney (3/6/2016 10:16:00 AM)

    Obviously, Johnny is no longer among the living and she really misses him. This is very well done. Thank you. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (3/6/2016 3:24:00 AM)

    The routine of life. Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Mohammed Asim Nehal (3/6/2016 2:17:00 AM)

    Nicely written poem, It is really difficult to identify self in the fast paced life and world. (Report) Reply

  • Kelly Kurt (6/11/2015 10:41:00 AM)

    Life can be so routine, that we forget that we are not just a piece of a puzzle, but a picture unto our self as a whole
    Thanks for sharing, Marie
    (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, June 11, 2015

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