"as helpless as crushed birds"

I'm going to have to write more about this later, but this is obviously a great loss for poetry. And for the first time, maybe not since Deborah Digges died, I am moved to tears. Rereading Gilbert now, this one seems particularly poignant. And so we go on, with our grief, managing to carry the box, without ever putting it down.

Rest in peace, Jack Gilbert.

Michiko Dead

He manages like somebody carrying a box
that is too heavy, first with his arms
underneath. When their strength gives out,
he moves the hands forward, hooking them
on the corners, pulling the weight against
his chest. He moves his thumbs slightly
when the fingers begin to tire, and it makes
different muscles take over. Afterward,
he carries it on his shoulder, until the blood
drains out of the arm that is stretched up
to steady the box and the arm goes numb. But now
the man can hold underneath again, so that
he can go on without ever putting the box down.

Jack Gilbert
from The Great Fires

Other poems by Jack Gilbert poems posted @ Against Oblivion:
"Not Part of Literature"
"Finding Something"'
"A Stubborn Ode"
"They Will Put My Body Into the Ground"
"Failing and Flying"
"Doing Poetry"