Tess Gallagher

Tess Gallagher, a poet, essayist, novelist, and playwright, was born in July 21, 1943 in Port Angeles, Washington.

Her first collection of poems, Instructions to the Double, won the 1976 Elliston Book Award for “best book of poetry published by a small press”. In 1984, she published the collection Willingly, which consists of poems written to and about her third husband, author Raymond Carver, who died in 1988. Other collections include Dear Ghosts (Graywolf Press, 2006), My Black Horse: New and Selected Poems (1995), Owl-Spirit Dwelling (1994) and Moon Crossing Bridge (1992).

About Gallagher’s work, the poet Hayden Carruth wrote, “Gallagher’s poems, beyond their delicacy of language, have a delicacy of perception, and the capacity to see oneself objectively as another person doing the things one really does, with clear affection and natural concern.”

Her honors include a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, two National Endowment of the Arts Awards, and the Maxine Cushing Gray Foundation Award.

BLACK SILK
Tess Gallagher

She was cleaning—there is always
that to do—when she found,
at the top of the closet, his old
silk vest. She called me
to look at it, unrolling it carefully
like something live
might fall out. Then we spread it
on the kitchen table and smoothed
the wrinkles down, making our hands
heavy until its shape against Formica
came back and the little tips
that would have pointed to his pockets
lay flat. The buttons were all there.
I held my arms out and she
looped the wide armholes over
them. “That’s one thing I never
wanted to be,” she said, “a man.”
I went into the bathroom to see
how I looked in the sheen and
sadness. Wind chimes
off-key in the alcove. Then her
crying so I stood back in the sink-light
where the porcelain had been staring. Time
to go to her, I thought, with that
other mind, and stood still.