At Least by Raymond Carver

Recently (that's always so vague), scratch that, four days ago, I bought a book of poetry.  Urged by a kindred spirit / guardian angel, I've begun reading a few poems each day, just to see how I like it and how I would react.  It's an experiment with words.  I've read fewer than 30 pages but already have several poems earmarked to share with you all.  I will try to share all the good ones with you, scattered here and there like rainbow marshmallows in an otherwise bland tasteless bowl of Lucky Charms.

This particular poem reminds me of our good friend Lauren at Still + Life.  If you've ever admired Lauren's photography, especially of the Elizabeth River at the end of Chesapeake Bay, you'll recognize why I thought of her immediately when I read this poem.

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.


  1. Beautiful words! I often forget about poetry and head straight for novels and such instead, I should read it more. :-)

  2. I love a good poem and love how poems romance my ears (sounds crazy but its true) :)

  3. At least,,,he's living his life until he can't anymore. That's a piece of advice I heard this weekend.

  4. <3
    Good poets really do have such a way with imagery. Thanks for sharing, Rooth.

  5. Oh Rooth. Rooth. How can I thank you enough for this. What a beautiful poem that mirrors so well what I am feeling these days? I got some bad news yesterday that has me totally bummed and doubting my general direction in things, and then to find this? That you could put my photos with this lovely poem. Well. Thank you isn't enough, but it's what I have. love

  6. I have a hard time with poetry. I love it, but can't read much of it. so a whole book of poetry... I'm impressed. this one is lovely indeed. can't wait for you to share more :)

  7. i was already feeling a little emotional this morning and this nudged me a little bit over that line for a moment. beautiful roothers. that reminds me of lauren and her river too. so so beautiful. i love raymond carver. one of my all time favorites, ever. xo

  8. Reall beautiful. I don't read nearly as much poetry as I should (ie, none) but this made me want to start. This and the book I'm reading has referenced Baudelaire about 10 times, too.

  9. Oh wow! What a beautiful poem! May I ask what book you are reading?

    Thank you also for the blog recommendation! :) Lauren's blog is lovely, I am going to enjoy perusing her photos and posts.

  10. the poem's beautiful. i have to be honest, i have never really been into them. it's actually been hard to get into it. poems and sonnets were always tough. but perhaps somewhere down the line, i might be able to give it another try~

  11. That poem is really beautiful. Thanks for sharing Rooth.

  12. Oh, that is lovely! And I love that you'll be sharing some poetry. I'm so bad . . . I never intentionally head for poetry. I don't want to miss you, you know . . .

  13. It's a lovely poem! While reading it, certain images are forming in my head. Simply because I like waking up before sunrise, I like to start working at the same time, and I live in a seaside so I see ships and stuff. :) This poem makes me happy. Thank you for sharing it.

  14. At Least, Mine (with apologies to R. Carver) -

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

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

    I want to slide my hand inside that old three-fingered baseball
    mitt and smell the leather; watch a fly-ball arc through
    the sky and come 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, 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 chardonnay, 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, on some warm summer day,
    while we watch geese fly overhead and boats go upstream.


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