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All I knew from Pittsburgh was Jack Gilbert's poem read aloud in a Petaluma living room when Jack was still living near Linda somewhere in the Berkshires, years before his sad devolution and eventual demise in a hospital in Oakland where someone – an orderly? a young poet friend? – seeing no next of kin called Gary Snyder to ask what to do with Jack's remains, which is how it is for us, I guess, the poets, tethered to each other in the popular mind as if we were one big family and we are: arguing and making up, taking soup to the infirm, writing down the bits we've overheard in coffee shops about the revered ones, reciting their lines, borrowing a good verb, a cadence, an attitude, until we find ourselves, folding them into our work, the ancestors, the lineage, and then there I was, brought to read a few poems where the Monongahela and the Snake meet to form the Ohio under so many butter yellow bridges, only Pittsburgh, as he said, but what did I know? is more than Pittsburgh.
Copyright 2020 Molly Fisk
Molly Fisk’s books include The More Difficult Beauty (Hip Pocket Books, 2010)