Why I Can’t Finish Raymond Carver’s Biography
by Cheryl Rice
For months I slogged through that new
bio of Raymond Carver, that
massive headstone of a volume that
details his lumberjack childhood,
child bride waitress, educational gallivants to
Yakima, Berkeley, Iowa City, with
Israel thrown in as a stab at real class,
rocket speed lives propelled by
alcohol, ego, love, and I realize
I remember the best parts already.
They remind me of my parents, guessing at normal,
Sunday cookouts with aluminum grills,
charcoal briquettes and plenty of lighter fluid,
lawn chairs repaired with new plastic webbing,
easy weave repeating its Woolworth glory.
Their only major move, though, was South,
to Florida, when they’d finished off
life on Long Island for good, a final decade
of hard work off short piers,
illogical chemistry driving them into the sunset,
holding pattern horse track surrounding
their Eden of silent palms, around and
around, brass ring out of reach.
Here on my own carousel, I pick up the book,
put it down, thick pages turning too slowly.
I roll over, shut my eyes, try to go to sleep,
but see Syracuse blizzards, oil drum cannons
exploding with independent fire,
brown American Schaefers lining ancient
suburban sidewalks, awaiting inspection,
sacrifice of hamburgers, hot dogs on a rolling pyre,
Dad turning, turning the meat, Mom inside
constructing potato salad thick with mayo
and regret, biting onion tears.
I hear when I close my eyes the Good Humor man passing,
and the sun slanting sideways, Atlantic sparkling
like a rabbit’s watch, time trickling on the
way it does on either coast.
Founder and host of the Sylvia Plath Bake-Off, Cheryl A. Rice has run her RANDOM WRITING workshops throughout the Hudson Valley. Rice has lived there for over 30 years, after growing up on Long Island. Her poetry blog, Flying Monkey Productions, is at http://flyingmonkeyprods.blogspot.com/.