At Least by 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.
The poem begins with a want—a deep desire to experience the early morning. You know how it is—how the yearning is not just about waking up early, but about embracing the quiet. I, too, have most times yearned for the clarity of the world before it becomes consumed by the day’s hustle.
I wonder about the little boat of my life, which rides the waves day in and day out—how I move with the rhythms of the universe, regardless of my preoccupations. Have I always kept an eye out for answers?
I hate to seem greedy—and yet I long for a deeper understanding of life. I long for more time, more occasions for loving, and more genuine experiences. I want to hold onto the beauty and routine of life, to witness the ordinary and draw from it a sense of purpose and understanding. I sit here and ask myself: how many mornings more?
This poem appeared in Where Water Comes Together with Other Water by Raymond Carver, published by Vintage Books, 1986. Shared here with profound gratitude.
“An illuminating collection of poems from the middle of Carver’s career that “function as distilled, heightened versions of his stories, offering us fugitive glimpses of ordinary lives on the edge” — The New York Times
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