Poet Jack Gilbert died yesterday, and immediately my Facebook feed was filled with many of the beautiful poems he wrote, fond memories, and stories of his influence upon writers at all stages, of all genres. The words live on, yes, though it’s sad to contemplate that there will be no more new ones coming forth.
In honor of Jack Gilbert, here’s a poem by Converse MFA grad Philip Belcher:
By Philip Belcher
Jack Gilbert is staring at me
from page 41 of this month's Poets and Writers,
or rather past me, as if he's still looking
for Michiko's hair in the stalks of carpet behind my recliner.
His skim milk eyes are full but do not drip.
We have never breathed from the same atmosphere
or stood on the earth in the same way.
He is completing a life
The script from which he reads
is written with stronger nouns and verbs.
He sees the movement of hair
on the backs of bees,
five different shades of white.
Never has he skimmed along the surface
like a spider, its feet denting the water
like cellophane, terrified of breaking through.
This poem was previously published in The Flies and Their Lovely Names (Stepping Stones Press 2007).
Philip Belcher has published poetry and critical prose in a variety of literary journals, includingShenandoah, South Dakota Review, Southeast Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and The Southern Quarterly. In 2007, his chapbook, The Flies and Their Lovely Names, was published by Stepping Stones Press at the University of South Carolina. He is an Advisory and Contributing Editor for Shenandoah and holds degrees from Furman University, Southeastern Seminary, the Duke University School of Law, and Converse College (MFA). He currently serves as Vice President, Programs, of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina in Asheville, NC.