Moon Crossing Bridge

By Tess Gallagher

165 ratings - 4.04* vote

Tess Gallagher, one of America's most accomplished poets, presents Moon Crossing Bridge, her sixth book, a descent into the world of the dead, a remembrance of her recently deceased beloved, whose presence and absence are recalled in sombre lyrical rhythms and with a extraordinary range of expressions of love and sadness.Devoid of self-pity or illusion, yet full of dream a Tess Gallagher, one of America's most accomplished poets, presents Moon Crossing Bridge, her sixth book, a descent

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Book details

Hardcover, 128 pages
2002 by Graywolf

(first published 1992)

Original Title
Moon Crossing Bridge
1555971563 (ISBN13: 9781555971564)
Edition Language

Community Reviews



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.
p. 64

I have known of this poem for Gallagher for awhile. I had no idea, until I picked up this collection, that she had written it after her husband died. For me, there is added poignancy now to her words. I am not sure I would have any words if my husband had died.

This whole collection is wonderful. I had to read the poems slowly and over and over again, but that is me, not Gallagher. Her words are so carefully chosen and so beautiful.

April is National Poetry month. I should have gotten to more poetry, but time got away from me. At least I read these poems. If you haven't read Gallagher, I highly recommend her.


When Tess Gallagher is good, she's REALLY good. Some stunning insights and breathtaking writing. Packed with carefully constructed poems about grief and mourning. However, when Tess is not good, it's tough. At times, I got lost in convoluted sentences or abstractions (a sin I am often guilty of in my writing, and now, having read her, I can see why people read them and say tsk, tsk.) However, a book that is WELL WORTH picking up. She looks at the world in wonderful ways.


I enjoyed meeting Tess a few years ago. She is a warm and gracious person. I must confess however that I find her obsession with the death of Raymond Carver somewhat off-putting, but that probably says more about my discomfort with love and loss and the unavoidable tragedy of being human and giving a damn than it does about her skill as a poet and vision as an artist. In the case of this collection there is nothing off-putting about the aforementioned obsession however, in that it was written shortly after the sad event that gave birth to it. Her poems are difficult and almost always require multiple readings, usually repaying the effort. One of the more accessible to me and my favorite in this collection is entitled "The Forest She Was Trying to Say" which opens with a quotation from Marina Tsvetayeva and then these lines:
"The angel wings of the hemlock
aren't for flying. They are the fragrant arms
of a stately spirit held in the shape
of an unlived moment when the world,
in all its woe and splendor, disappeared.
To visit the sunless core
of the forest is to say to the heart,
which is always a remnant, "Love as if
you will be answered," and in that fiction
to force love wide
as the invisible net of bird flight
between the boughs."
For poetry this good I forgive any obsession I think.


Moon Crossing Bridge is a collection about lost love, grief, and moving forward. The book is filled with poems about the author's late husband and the poems written feel like the poet's way of processing her loss. The poems in this collection is full of beautiful lyrics and confessional forms. Gallagher is so good and weaving metaphors together in single poems and then using them again throughout the book. The most prominent example of this is the moon (a symbol or romance) that keeps appearing as the speaker travels. Though there are some jaw dropping poems in this collection (especially the fourth section and in Japan) there often seem to be too many poems about lost love... and maybe it would be better to experience this collection in pieces instead of all at once.

Things I liked~
*I think the lyric of the poems are so strong and they are what kept me moving through the book even though the subject matter felt repetitive.
*The Japan poems are so beautiful and I flew through the section.
*I love the continuous image of the moon and moonlight following the speaker.
*The final poems are a good way to end the collection with moving forward and acceptance.

Things I didn't like as much~
*I felt the book was a bit slow without a lot of diversity.

Overall - 4.5/5

Julia Hannafin

“I run the comb through his lush hair,
letting it think into my wrist”

that great concealer, is more than generous, gives
always what it doesn’t have.”

“For to confirm what is forever beyond speech
pulls action out of us.”

& from the titular poem:

“And who’s to say I didn’t cross
just because I used the bridge in its witnessing,
to let the water stay the water
and the incongruities of the moon to chart
that joining I was certain of.”

she’s so good! i will hold onto these phrases and many others. she writes about loss adeptly; it is about him and not, more about the space left, and what it makes of you, what you make of it.

Lenora Good

These poems are deeply personal, about the death of her true love, Raymond Carver. I am honored she trusted me with her feelings. There are poems in this powerful book that made me cry, and there were places where I smiled. I don't believe I've ever read a book as deeply passionate as this extraordinary book.

The writing is stunning, and I thank Ms. Gallagher for sharing her love and her grief.

David Clark

An absolute treasure. Tess Gallagher breaks your heart by drawing out the emotion and damage her own has withstood after Raymond Carver’s passing. Beautifully paced, elegantly destructive; these poems make you slow down, think about the ordinary touches of meaning which explode into what it is to love someone. They wrap you loosely, providing warmth with brisk, stiff rips of the coldest air.

Natalie Pillion

This is such a heartbreaking, poignant and moving collection. I am a fan of Raymond Carver, so that's why I came to this but... wow, I was blown away. I love the way Gallagher writes. I felt like I was truly savoring all her descriptions. Can't wait to read more of her.


These poems perfectly capture the heartbreak of lose, the intimate nature of a deep connection uninterrupted by death and the persistence of grief.

Brian Wasserman

Review: accomplished?? accomplished in the sense of having written much, but whose work is worth little? Again this work is in the modernist vogue, attempting to be novel, but lacking real spirit, does this novel speak to readers-No, but this novel speak for the author and her own experience.


The peacock has eaten the poison orchid
and shakes poison into beauty of feathers as easily as my hair unlatches its black hairpins into the pool the sunken grave has made of him. They drop and drop.
From a long way off I hear them strike bone
there could be eyesocket or pelvis or sternum. The sounds is not what I expected