Albert Goldbarth’s imagination has the unique penchant for a certain absurdist insistence on the delight we can derive from strangeness. The poet hears his wife singing and thinks of a horse’s skull. This seems like a prelude to intimations of mortality (the poem’s title is, after all, “Tough Day: Closure”), but then, what happens is not quite humor, but dogged joy, “as if the brain/is determined to sing and fly.” And the image that stays with me is this one, a bird rising out of a horse’s skull.
Tough Day: Closure
Upstairs, in the bath, my wife
is humming some made-up tune
in which the mood of a zoned-out
happiness willfully prevails.
Why do I suddenly think of the horse skull
that I saw last year in the countryside?
Because a bird rose out of it,
as if the brain
is determined to sing and fly,
the brain is determined to sing and fly
no matter what.