Words for a Young Widow in Maine

By Norman Williams Norman Williams
The sinew of the hickory that grips
The axe, the rasp of salt against the skin,
Or rockbound earth that shines the steel plough
In spring, are thought along our coast to lend
A native character, though none can match
The force of grief: compare the fisherman’s
Scored cheeks; the ligaments that rope the necks
Of lumberjacks; or the farmer’s gnarled wrist—
Compare these with the widow’s fisted look,
Then judge who has the most to bear. Think of
The ghost that each night slips between her sheets
Or of the sudden joy of being alone
Which troubles her for weeks. And you, who thought
Him mean, or too devoted to his drink,
Consider how the common fingerstones,
Bathed in the tidal slabs, grow luminous.

“Words for a Young Widow in Maine” from One Unblinking Eye by Norman Williams. Published in 2003 by Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, Athens Ohio (www.ohioswallow.com).

Source: One Blinking Eye (Ohio University Press, 2003)

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Poet Norman Williams

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Marriage & Companionship, Living, Sorrow & Grieving


An attorney in Burlington, Vermont, Norman Williams earned a BA from the University of Colorado in 1974 and a JD from Yale University in 1979. He is the author of the poetry collections The Unlovely Child: Poems (1985) and One Unblinking Eye (2003). He has received an Ingram Merrill Fellowship, an Amy Lowell Fellowship, and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The Unlovely Child won the I.B. Lavan Award. Poet . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Marriage & Companionship, Living, Sorrow & Grieving

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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