Literary Birthday – 21 July – Tess Gallagher

Happy Birthday, Tess Gallagher, born 21 July 1943.


  1. The past is not only that which happened but also that which could have happened but did not.
  2. When I was a young girl salmon fishing with my father in the Straits of Juan de Fuca in Washington State I used to lean out over the water and try to look past my own face, past the reflection of the boat, past the sun and darkness, down to where the fish were surely swimming. I made up charm songs and word-hopes to tempt the fish, to cause them to mean biting my hook. I believed they would do it if I asked them well and patiently and with the right hope. I am writing my poems like this. I have used the fabric and the people of my life as the bait.
  3. When you hug someone you want it to be a masterpiece of connection, the way the button on his coat will leave the imprint of a planet in my cheek when I walk away.
  4. I stop writing the poem to fold the clothes. No matter who lives or who dies, I’m still a woman. I’ll always have plenty to do. I bring the arms of his shirt together. Nothing can stop our tenderness. I’ll get back to the poem. I’ll get back to being a woman. But for now there’s a shirt, a giant shirt in my hands, and somewhere a small girl standing next to her mother watching to see how it’s done.

Tess Gallagher is an American poet, essayist, and short story writer. She received a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, a National Endowment for the Arts award, and a Maxine Cushing Gray Foundation Award. She wrote Moon Crossing Bridge, a collection of love poems dedicated to her husband, Raymond Carver, who died in 1988. She also wrote the short-story collections The Lover of Horses, and Other Stories, At the Owl Woman Saloon, and The Man from Kinvara.

Source for quotes

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 20th July 2020