Now and again, I dip into Raymond Carver’s poetry with a feeling of gratitude. Here is someone who’s lived it – the good and the bad – and come out with a sense of wonder intact. Take this poem, Tomorrow.
Cigarette smoke hanging on
in the living room. The ship’s lights
out on the water, dimming. The stars
burning holes in the sky. Becoming ash, yes.
But it’s all right, they’re supposed to do that.
Those lights we call stars.
Burn for a time and then die.
Me hell-bent. Wishing
it were tomorrow already.
I remember my mother, God love her,
saying, Don’t wish for tomorrow.
You’re wishing your life away.
Nevertheless, I wish
for tomorrow. In all its finery.
I want sleep to come and go, smoothly.
Like passing out of the door of one car
into another. And then to wake up!
Find tomorrow in my bedroom.
I’m more tired now than I can say.
My bowl is empty. But it’s my bowl, you see,
and I love it.
I suspect that most of us feel this way about our lives – however full of problems, grim reflections or lucid moments we would rather not have, they are also ‘our bowls’, our vessels of being, and precious. You can’t say no to owning your own life, however it may hurt you at times.
Those last two lines are perfect, I think:
“My bowl is empty. But it’s my bowl, you see,
and I love it.”