Showing 2881 - 2890 of 2900 Literature annotations
Summary:I have never written against the dead, says the narrator, but in this instance, the death of her grandfather, she must. Why? Because, ominously, "he taught my father/ how to do what he did to me." The poem moves from a startlingly literal image of nursing the nameless dead, to the pocketwatch which was sent as a memento after this particular death, to specific personal memories of mistreatment at the hands of the grandfather. The narrator cannot regret this death.
The narrator has experienced an epiphany in which she can understand objectively, even forgive, her father’s abusive behavior toward her. She has seen in her mind’s eye her father as a child, in the bleak household where "something was / not given to you, or something was / taken from you . . . "; she wishes that the love she feels for her father now could have nurtured him as a child and saved him from becoming an alcoholic adult who mistreated his family.
The narrator observes how her dying father is changing as he dies. She experiences the process as if she were giving cosmic birth to him,
and as if she could protect him in the safety of her womb.
This dead body is to be treated with respect, not to be left alone or to be donated to the anatomy lab, or for organ transplantation. For the narrator, there is little difference between this body of her dead father and the unconscious body she remembers from so much of her childhood. She cannot make the distinction emotionally between the dead and the living father, " . . . this was the one I had known anyway, / this man made of rich substance."
A powerful lament over a father’s wasted life, and the "purgatory" of living in a household dominated by alcoholism and marital discord. Strong and graphic language weaves a complex web of conflicting emotions: hatred and self-hatred, scorn and pity, condemnation and forgiveness.
The poet tells of having suffered two great losses--losses so monumental that they are comparable to death. She wonders if another such devastating event awaits her in the future.
In the first stanza the speaker describes his experiences cleaning the autopsy room at night. Sometimes they left corpses or parts of corpses out on the table. Once they even left a woman's leg (he'd "seen them before").
At home, though, the speaker was so distracted by these experiences that he'd sit with his eyes closed, or stare at the ceiling, rather than interacting with his wife. He was distant and cold; she tried to warm him. His "fingers strayed to her leg. / Which was warm and shapely . . . . " But what about the woman's leg on the autopsy table? He ends with the paradox, "Nothing / was happening. Everything was happening." Life and death, beginning and end, warmth and coldness, closeness and distance, feeling and the denial of feeling: all are part of the whole.
Summary:In this avuncular poem the "recently alive" do their thing--lie "spread and silent / on the dented sink"--while the "aproned doctors" do their thing--"cut and weigh, / measuring / the diagnosis." The poem models the distance that sometimes develops between doctors and their feelings; the doctors insulate themselves from feelings. Contrast this with the protagonist of Carver's poem, The Autopsy Room (see this database; also annotated by Felice Aull).
Summary:The author will not open Gray's Anatomy again. Why? Because he sees in its plates of various organs mundane images, rather than the personal knowledge he imagined. He had "hoped someday to own" himself, but he finds that his "geography" is composed of others' names and others' history. The author is not there. You can't discover who you are by learning the parts you're made of. Or can you?
Summary:An elderly, demented Dr. Cahn ("his mind had slipped its moorings years ago") is taken by his son to the hospital to visit Dr. Cahn's wife who is dying of cancer. They hold hands. She is touched and pleased that he has come, but sad at his inattention as his mind wanders. In the taxi on the way home, Dr. Cahn asks, "Are we home?"