Hayden Carruth

(August 3, 1921 – September 29, 2008 / Woodbury, Connecticut)

Ray


How many guys are sitting at their kitchen tables
right now, one-thirty in the morning, this same
time, eating a piece of pie? - that's what I
wondered. A big piece of pie, because I'd just
finished reading Ray's last book. Not good pie,
not like my mother or my wife could've
made, but an ordinary pie I'd just bought, being
alone, at the Tops Market two hours ago. And how
many had water in their eyes? Because of Ray's
book and especially those last poems written
after he knew: the one about the doctor telling
him, the one where he and Tess go down to
Reno to get married before it happens and shoot
some craps on the dark baize tables, the one
called "After-Glow" about the little light in the
sky after the sun sets. I can just hear him,
if he were still here and this were somebody
else's book, saying, "Jesus," saying, "This
is the saddest son of a bitch of a book I've
read in a long time," saying, "A real long time."
And the thing is, he knew we'd be saying this
about his book, he could just hear us saying it,
and in some part of him he was glad! He
really was. What crazies we writers are
our heads full of language like buckets of minnows
standing in the moonlight on a dock. Ray
was a good writer, a wonderful writer, and his
poems are good, most of them and they made me
cry, there at my kitchen table with my head down,
me, a sixty-seven-year-old galoot, an old fool
because all old men are fools, they have to be,
shoveling big jagged chunks of that ordinary pie
into my mouth, and the water falling from my eyes
onto the pie, the plate, my hand, little speckles
shining in the light, brightening the colors, and I
ate that goddamn pie, and it tasted good to me.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003
Edited: Friday, July 29, 2011

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