May 03, 2009


by Jack Gilbert

I came back from the funeral and crawled
around the apartment, crying hard,
searching for my wife’s hair.
For two months got them from the drain,
from the vacuum cleaner, under the refrigerator,
and off the clothes in the closet.
But after the Japanese women came,
there was no way to be sure which were
hers, and I stopped. A year later,
repotting Michiko’s avocado, I find
a long black hair tangled in the dirt.

1 comment:

Aurora said...

Okay, so I'm trying to explain to someone why I love reading poetry so much and I used this poem as an example.

Person: "I just don't...get it."

Me: "Well, visualize this: After years of marriage, of loving and living, a man loses his wife. After the funeral he comes home and grief stricken sobbing on the floor looking for her hairs because he can't bear to have any of them thrown away. These hairs are physical reminders that she existed. Every hair is so precious because, in a way, it keeps her alive. Only...he doesn't know which hairs are hers because there had been other women in the house. Then, a year after her death, when he can finally go through a day without being completely broken by grief...he goes to repot a plant of theirs and finds a hair. Her hair. Undoubtedly her hair, in the dirt. I just see him smiling at the reminder of her. Then missing her so bad. The wound reopening and everything being so bittersweet. If *I* was him, it would be a moment of such great happines followed by a complete breakdown. Wishing she was there to hold me and tell me it was alright."

Person: "Oh. I was just thinking it would make me smile."

Of course, this is a prime example of my tendency to overdramatize things, but I was curious about how you saw it.