Barrels

By Barbara Guest 1920–2006 Barbara Guest

Y otras pasan; y viéndome tan triste,
toman un poquito de ti
en la abrupta arruga de mi hondo dolor.

                                   Cesar Vellejo


I won’t let anybody
take a drink
out of this barrel of tears
I’ve collected from you.

Least of all another woman.

I see her coming along.
I know the type.
I can tell you what she’ll
be wearing.

I know the type
I won’t like it.

She’ll look at that barrel
she’s had a few in her day.

Not that she’s ever filled one.

She’ll remark casually,
“Sweet water,
good to wash my hair.”

And who doesn’t know
tears are purer
than rain water
and softer on the hair.

Just as she steps toward it
and makes for the cup,
I’ll see phantom you
and what you were
brought up by the sea.

And scraps of paper
from this ditch of my brain
will float on the water
and choke her.

Barbara Guest, “Barrels” from The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest. Copyright © 2008 by Barbara Guest and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest (Wesleyan University Press, 2008)

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Poet Barbara Guest 1920–2006

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Subjects Living, Separation & Divorce, Relationships, Love, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Realistic & Complicated

 Barbara  Guest

Biography

Barbara Guest rose to prominence in the late 1950s as a member of an informal group of writers known as the New York school of poets whose membership included Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, and James Schuyler. Their innovative approach to poetry was influenced by modern art, especially surrealism and abstract expressionism. Guest drew on her own background in art (she worked for Art News magazine in the 1950s) to create poetry . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Separation & Divorce, Relationships, Love, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Realistic & Complicated

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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