What the Living Do
Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably
fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes
have piled up
waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep headstrong blue, and the sunlight
the open living room windows because the heat’s on too high in here, and
I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street,
the bag breaking,
I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my
wrist and sleeve,
I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called
What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to
pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss – we want more and more and
then more of it.
But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing
for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m
I am living, I remember you.
Marie Howe, from her 1998 collection What the Living Do
I really like this poem, and I wanted to read it out for my video post but it is too long and I don't like the sound of my own voice. I just think it's so beautiful how people talk about the little things in life. These things may not seem particularly pertinent when you are doing them, but like a lot of things, just verbalizing something makes it special.
[Like, I was thinking the other day that if we look upon our own experiences and interactions in hindsight, it makes those experiences and interactions more valuable. If we can't contemplate our own lives then what does it really mean anyway?]
The sink being clogged and having to call the plumber, the crusty dishes, spilling coffee, having the heat on too high, buying a hairbrush, dropping a bag of groceries, your own reflection in a shop window. All of these things, these everyday things, there is beauty in each one of them.
I love the line "what you called that yearning" and sometimes I will think of it and say it out loud, putting emphasis on the word 'yearning' because that's how I imagine she meant it.
Ever since I read Susie's short story which mentioned everyday things, it made me think of this poem and then that prompted me to start this series which I guess is just called "everyday things". I am probably going to make it into a zine and call it "This is the everyday we spoke of" as a tribute to this poem.
Here is a teaser:
This is the way I like my tea: milk, no sugar.
I like to put the milk in first because that is how I have always done it. When people put the milk in last it secretly irks me. I think most people do it that way.
I have about 12 so far. But all of these projects I keep starting will have to wait until uni is over. I shouldn't even be writing this because I have too much to do. I sometimes question whether I'm going to make it.