A native of New York, Louise Gluck has written numerous books of poetry (including A Village Life: Poems, reviewed here last November), won the Pulitzer Prize and a host of other awards and prizes, and in 2003 became the U.S. Poet Laureate and the judge for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. In 2008, she was selected to receive the Wallace Stevens Award for mastery in the art of poetry.
What can I tell you that you don’t know
that will make you tremble again?
by the roadside, by
wet rocks, on the embankments
underplanted with hyacinth —
For ten years I was happy.
You were there; in a sense,
you were always with me, the house, the garden
not with lights as we have in the sky
but with those emblems of light
which are more powerful, being
implicitly some earthly
thing transformed —
And all of it vanished,
reabsorbed into impassive process. Then
what will we see by,
now that the yellow torches have become
Speak to me, aching heart: what
Ridiculous errand are you inventing for yourself
Weeping in the dark garage
With your sack of garbage: it is not your job
To take out the garbage, it is your job
To empty the dishwasher. You are showing off
Exactly as you did in childhood–where
Is your sporting side, your famous
Ironic detachment? A little moonlight hits
The broken window, a little summer moonlight,
Murmurs from the earth with its ready
Is this the way you communicate
With your husband, not answering
When he calls, or is this the way the heart
Behaves when it grieves: it wants to be
Alone with the garbage? If I were you,
I’d think ahead. After fifteen years,
His voice could be getting tired; some night
If you don’t answer, someone else will answer.
When I made you, I loved you.
Now I pity you.
I gave you all you needed:
bed of earth, blanket of blue air–
As I get further away from you
I see you more clearly.
Your souls should have been immense by now,
not what they are,
small talking things–
I gave you every gift,
blue of the spring morning,
time you didn’t know how to use–
you wanted more, the one gift
reserved for another creation.
Whatever you hoped,
you will not find yourselves in the garden,
among the growing plants.
Your lives are not circular like theirs:
your lives are the bird’s flight
which begins and ends in stillness–
which begins and ends, in form echoing
this arc from the white birch
to the apple tree.
For National Poetry Month, we’re giving away InsideOut: Poems by L.L. Barkat. Just leave a comment (your name or a simple “hello” will be sufficient) in the comment section between now and tonight (April 19) at midnight eastern time. We’ll pick a name at random – and that person will get a copy of InsideOut.
Postings and News Updates:
Valparaiso Poetry Review has an essay, “Lunch with Larry, ” by Alexander Long on a lunch with Philip Levine that focuses on poet Larry Levis.
Maureen Doallas has a feature today at Writing Without Paper on Peggy Vining, the poet laureate of Arkansas.