Michiko Dead

By Jack Gilbert 1925–2012 Jack Gilbert
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, “Michiko Dead” from The Great Fires: Poems 1982-1992. Copyright © 1994 by Jack Gilbert. Reprinted with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Source: The Great Fires: Poems 1982-1992 (Alfred A. Knopf, 1994)

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Poet Jack Gilbert 1925–2012

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Marriage & Companionship, Death, Living


When Jack Gilbert won the Yale Younger Poets prize in 1962 for Views of Jeopardy, he attained a kind of allure usually foreign to poets. His photo was featured in Esquire, Vogue, and Glamour, and his book was often stolen from the library. A Guggenheim Fellowship enabled him to go to Europe; he spent much of the ensuing two decades living modestly abroad. Although the literary world embraced him early in his career, he was . . .

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Poems by Jack Gilbert

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Marriage & Companionship, Death, Living

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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