Form and Content
Tess Gallagher, in her poetic elegy Moon Crossing Bridge, responds to the death of her husband, writer Raymond Carver. The ninety-nine-page collection includes sixty poems, about half of which previously appeared in magazines and anthologies. These poems are divided into six loosely chronological sections, separated by numbers and quotations rather than by titles. Among those quoted in the introductions to the sections are poets Pablo Neruda, Izumi Shikibu, and Marina Tsvetayeva, giving the collections an international flavor. According to Gallagher, the poems in Moon Crossing Bridge were written in the two and a half years after Carver’s death on August 2, 1988.
While critics disagree about whether Moon Crossing Bridge follows stages of grieving, the title itself, derived from a Chinese ideogram for the Togetsu Bridge near Kyoto, Japan, shows the pattern of moonlight crossing a bridge and moving, as the poems do, to a sort of illumination of the grief.
The six sections of the book tie into the elegy as a whole. Though the early parts of the book explore painful memories, even through part 3, which is referred to as “The Valentine Elegies,” part 6 includes what one critic calls “poems of recovery.” The elegy centers geographically both in Port Angeles, Washington, where Gallagher and Carver lived, and in Japan, where Gallagher traveled in 1990 to oversee the translations of Carver’s fiction into Japanese...
(The entire section is 541 words.)