Raymond Carver sobered up & met his true
companion, Tess Gallagher, but hidden
in the pink branches
of his lungs was a slow seed

of malignancy. Tess was the beneficiary
of his temperance unlike Maryann,
his first wife, whose head he once cracked
open with a vodka bottle. His recovery

lasted 11 years—he called
them gravy—& they included words like beloved,
union, deliverance. Ray’s final
days spent contemplating

roses, reading Chekhov
from the back porch of his oak
& pine house in drizzly
Port Angeles. Crushed

by loss, Tess stabbed
at the void with poetry—sixty
poems, all elegiac, filled
a volume called Moon

Crossing Bridge. Pieces of grieving
stretched like a triple load
of laundry on the line. Everything
around her quickened, all parts

of heartbrokenness felt, which
made a map for me. A footpath
to walk during the first
year of losing you.