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At Least by Raymond Carver

A. is bugging me to read Raymond Carver’s fiction. He’s good, he’s good, he says, he’s damn good. There’s something about his name that sounds so familiar so I looked among my things — I have a box full of random scraps of paper with lots of stuff written on them — and found this poem. A-ha! Something to talk about tonight.

At Least
Raymond Carver

I want to get up early one more morning,
before sunrise. Before the birds, even.
I want to throw cold water on my face
and be at my work table
when the sky lightens and smoke
begins to rise from the chimneys
of the other houses.
I want to see the waves break
on this rocky beach, not just hear them
break as I did all night in my sleep.
I want to see again the ships
that pass through the Strait from every
seafaring country in the world—
old, dirty freighters just barely moving along,
and the swift new cargo vessels
painted every color under the sun
that cut the water as they pass.
I want to keep an eye out for them.
And for the little boat that plies
the water between the ships
and the pilot station near the lighthouse.
I want to see them take a man off the ship
and put another up on board.
I want to spend the day watching this happen
and reach my own conclusions.
I hate to seem greedy—I have so much
to be thankful for already.
But I want to get up early one more morning, at least.
And go to my place with some coffee and wait.
Just wait, to see what’s going to happen.

Comments (4)

  • Jim

    I want to wake up some morning and be in fifth grade again,
    when life was sugar sweet and filled with so many tomorrows.

    I want to ride my red bike up and down the little town’s streets
    where I lived, my ol’ dog running along side, just to feel the
    sheer joy of doing it again.

    I want to slide my hand inside that old three-fingered baseball
    mitt again, to smell the leather, and watch a fly-ball arcing through
    the sky that comes smacking into its netting.

    I want to put my old steel guitar across my thighs and play, “In the Mood,”
    like I once could, just to hear it coming from me, again.

    I want to buy a corsage for her green and blue prom dress and take her
    to Homecoming again, like we did when we were seventeen.

    I want to sit in the evenings with her, me with a glass of scotch whiskey,
    her with her Diet-Coke, a fire in the fireplace, and watch old
    black and white film-noirs on Turner Classic Movies.

    I want to write these thoughts as clearly on this paper as they were
    in my head in the wee hours while still in bed this morning.

    I hate to seem as though I’m as old as I am and should write
    memoirs like people my age sometimes do,

    But I want to share these thoughts and ideas with you, maybe while
    we relax under a shade tree down by the river while watching the geese
    flying overhead and the boats going by.

  • Amy

    enjoyed your play on one of my favorite poems of all time…. very sweet, and evocative. Age is a feeling…..may your memories keep you young

  • Caitrine

    Ah, so beautifully done. This was one of my dad’s favorite poems and he would recite it at the dinner table after a good meal with us reunited again. I miss him.


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