Our throats were tight as tourniquets, Our feet were bound with splints, but now, Like convalescents intimate and gauche, We speak through sickly smiles and warn With the stubborn saw of common sense, The grim joke and the banal resolution. For death in war is done by hands; Suicide has cause and stillbirth, logic; And cancer, simple as a flower, blooms.
The connection between this poem and war poetry is clear: the focus in human fragility and on the shattering effect violence has on reason, are frequent themes when contemplating war.
Shapiro takes this sensibility and puts it into a domestic setting, a situation that most Americans would be familiar with from their own experiences.
She was the inspiration for his cycle of love poems, White-Haired Lover (1968).
That volume and another published that year, Selected Poems, were awarded the 1969 Bollingen Prize for Poetry, which Shapiro shared with John Berryman.