What the Living Do Response

“What the Living Do” is a poem that talks about the struggles in everyday life with Marie Howe after the passing of her brother John. It shows very well that the death of someone can have a tragic, depressing, and life changing influence, almost to the point of questioning the value of life itself. However, even though we face terrible moments in our lives, there are always certain situations that can make us realize the blessing of every breath we take, or the breaths of those that we remember. I think this is evident throughout this work of poetry. She sets up the ending of realization by repetition of the negative aspects of life leading to the one moment that sets it all apart. The description of the tasks faced in everyday life really made it easy for me, as a reader, to understand what she was trying to say.
Marie Howe immediately lets the reader know who she is writing to by saying, “Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.” (Howe Line 1) I can already see the closeness of the relationship with Johnny by her informal and relaxed way that she writes to him. It gives the reader a sense of a different kind of friendship, a very personal bond that they both shared. Understanding that this relationship is very close is an important factor in my mind. Most of the examples in the poem are simple, but not to Marie and Johnny. Everyday things aren’t everyday anymore when you lose someone very close to you, they become so much more. They also become so much more difficult to overcome, without that special person beside you.
The mood of the writer starts showing her signs of depression by stating, “And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up / waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of. / It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through.” (Howe 2-4) She tells Johnny about the things she has not been...