Candle, Lamp and Firefly

Gallagher, Tess

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Jul-05-2001


What I remember most: you did not want / to go. The poet searches her memory for the scene--the dying man "like a cut rose / on the fifth day" turns into himself, drops, and deepens. She visualizes his weak arms embracing her, as she asks: "Is it good / where you are?" The word "daughter" echoes again and again, as she feels her father's body turn cold and pull away. In the end "I carry no proof that we met." Is the memory of this moment simply a dream? Or did this last embrace really happen? [42 lines]


A first reading of this poem immediately evokes the intense relationship between Tess Gallagher and her husband Raymond Carver. One visualizes Carver, dying of lung cancer and being cared-for by Tess in their Port Townsend, Washington, home. But then come the words "daughter, daughter." In fact, this poem, published more than two years before Raymond Carver's demise, evokes a dream or memory of the poet's dying father.

Primary Source




Place Published

Port Townsend, Wash.