Louise Glück--Online Poems
Fish bones walked the waves off Hatteras.
And there were other signs
That Death wooed us, by water, wooed us
By land: among the pines
An uncurled cottonmouth that rolled on moss
Reared in the polluted air.
Birth, not death, is the hard loss.
I know. I also left a skin there.
Copyright © 1987 Louise Glück
Part 9 from "Marathon"
I was not meant to hear
the two of them talking.
But I could feel the light of the torch
stop trembling, as though it had been
set on a table. I was not to hear
the one say to the other
how best to arouse me,
with what words, what gestures,
nor to hear the description of my body,
how it responded, what
it would not do. My back was turned.
I studied the voices, soon distinguishing
the first, which was deeper, closer,
from that of the replacement.
For all I know, this happens
every night: somebody waking me, then
the first teaching the second.
What happens afterward
occurs far from the world, at a depth
where only the dream matters
and the bond with any one soul
is meaningless; you throw it away.
© 1987 Louise Glück
Night covers the pond with its wing.
Under the ringed moon I can make out
your face swimming among minnows and the small
echoing stars. In the night air
the surface of the pond is metal.
Within, your eyes are open. They contain
a memory I recognize, as though
we had been children together. Our ponies
grazed on the hill, they were gray
with white markings. Now they graze
with the dead who wait
like children under their granite breastplates,
lucid and helpless:
The hills are far away. They rise up
blacker than childhood.
What do you think of, lying so quietly
by the water? When you look that way I want
to touch you, but do not, seeing
as in another life we were of the same blood.
from The House on the Marshland. © 1975 Louise Glück. Online Source
The Fear of Burial
In the empty field, in the morning,
the body waits to be claimed.
The spirit sits beside it, on a small rock--
nothing comes to give it form again.
Think of the body's loneliness.
At night pacing the sheared field,
its shadow buckled tightly around.
Such a long journey.
And already the remote, trembling lights of the village
not pausing for it as they scan the rows.
How far away they seem,
the wooden doors, the bread and milk
laid like weights on the table.
from Descending Figure. © 1980 Louise Glück. Online Source
I regret bitterly
The years of loving you in both
Your presence and absence, regret
The law, the vocation
That forbid me to keep you, the sea
A sheet of glass, the sun-bleached
Beauty of the Greek ships: how
Could I have power if
I had no wish
To transform you: as
You loved my body,
As you found there
Passion we held above
All other gifts, in that single moment
Over honor and hope, over
Loyalty, in the name of that bond
I refuse you
Such feeling for your wife
As will let you
Rest with her, I refuse you
If I cannot have you.
from Meadowlands. © 1986 by Louise Glück. Online Source
I became a criminal when I fell in love.
Before that I was a waitress.
I didn't want to go to Chicago with you.
I wanted to marry you, I wanted
Your wife to suffer.
I wanted her life to be like a play
In which all the parts are sad parts.
Does a good person
Think this way? I deserve
Credit for my courage--
I sat in the dark on your front porch.
Everything was clear to me:
If your wife wouldn't let you go
That proved she didn't love you.
If she loved you
Wouldn't she want you to be happy?
I think now
If I felt less I would be
A better person. I was
A good waitress.
I could carry eight drinks.
I used to tell you my dreams.
Last night I saw a woman sitting in a dark bus--
In the dream, she's weeping, the bus she's on
Is moving away. With one hand
She's waving; the other strokes
An egg carton full of babies.
The dream doesn't rescue the maiden.
© 1986 by Louise Glück. Online Source
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