I Wake Up Angry with Raymond Carver: For Maryann Burk Carver
I wake up angry with Raymond Carver
(whom I love, who is long dead and cannot suffer my anger,
cannot even pour me gin or offer cigarettes),
for bestowing literary domain on Tess Gallagher.
Tess had nothing to do with it.
She showed up late to his curly, black hair and meticulous prose.
It was Maryann, who traded her sixteen to his nineteen,
Who bore his babies—the ones with the odd middle names
—who patched family with leavings from his
“oh, I need to be a writer” dark matter;
Maryann, who tramped with him cross-country
so he could teach/drink/get fired
from the good universities;
Maryann, whose mid-level teaching degree, earned at night,
provided the food;
Maryann, who stood Ray’s bald infidelity
(a house for Tess, no divorce for Maryann);
Maryann, who said kind, public things as he lay dying;
Sweet Maryann whose expended life built his,
who, characteristically, put up with him leaving her children
too fatherless, too early.
Tess, I think, would argue she had Raymond
for a few unhealthy years and six weeks,
that Maryann got the best of his brilliant life,
that by comparison her compensation registers little.
Still, Maryann should have gotten the writing.