Home now. Stronger. Surer.

Afraid, yes, but among you again. Again.

Louise Glück

Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.

I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring—

afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world.

I was hurting, and I said, I’ll burn this fucking house down. They worried that the neighbors will hear. Really? After everything that has happened, don’t you think everybody already knows what’s going on here? If you think otherwise then you’re a bigger fool than I am. The woman who has taken care of me since I was born didn’t say anything at first. She was peeling onions in the kitchen. It will be like this forever, I insisted. It’s hopeless to expect change. I’ll burn it all.

She turned to me. Just tell me when, she said, quietly.

The Untrustworthy Speaker
Louise Glück

Don’t listen to me; my heart’s been broken.
I don’t see anything objectively.

I know myself; I’ve learned to hear like a psychiatrist.
When I speak passionately,
that’s when I’m least to be trusted.

It’s very sad, really: all my life, I’ve been praised
for my intelligence, my powers of language, of insight.
In the end, they’re wasted—

I never see myself,
standing on the front steps, holding my sister’s hand.
That’s why I can’t account
for the bruises on her arm, where the sleeve ends.

In my own mind, I’m invisible: that’s why I’m dangerous.
People like me, who seem selfless,
we’re the cripples, the liars;
we’re the ones who should be factored out
in the interest of truth.

When I’m quiet, that’s when the truth emerges.
A clear sky, the clouds like white fibers.
Underneath, a little gray house, the azaleas
red and bright pink.

If you want the truth, you have to close yourself
to the older daughter, block her out:
when a living thing is hurt like that,
in its deepest workings,
all function is altered.

That’s why I’m not to be trusted.
Because a wound to the heart
is also a wound to the mind.

I suppose I am disgusted by this how this is turning out I’ve brought out all the sad poems because I can’t cry and now this place is riddled with unshed tears and I am turning into a revolting heap of patheticness and I can’t write for shit and oh god—

Unwritten Law
Louise Glück

Interesting how we fall in love:
In my case, absolutely. Absolutely, and, alas, often—
so it was in my youth.
And always with rather boyish men—
unformed, sullen, or shyly kicking the dead leaves:
in the manner of Balanchine.
Nor did I see them as versions of the same thing.
I, with my inflexible Platonism,
my fierce seeing of only one thing at a time:
I ruled against the indefinite article.
And yet, the mistakes of my youth
made me hopeless, because they repeated themselves,
as is commonly true.
But in you I felt something beyond the archetype—
a true expansiveness, a buoyance and love of the earth
utterly alien to my nature. To my credit,
I blessed my good fortune in you.
Blessed it absolutely, in the manner of those years.
And you in your wisdom and cruelty
gradually taught me the meaninglessness of that term.

Finally finished with one of my projects, goodness. I’ve been writing that for two months. I feel emotionally, mentally and creatively drained. I hope my client is happy. As for me I just want to crawl back to bed and sleep for a year.

Circe’s Grief
Louise Glück

In the end, I made myself
Known to your wife as
A god would, in her own house, in
Ithaca, a voice
Without a body: she
Paused in her weaving, her head turning
First to the right, then left
Though it was hopeless of course
To trace that sound to any
Objective source: I doubt
She will return to her loom
With what she knows now. When
You see her again, tell her
This is how a god says goodbye:
If I am in her head forever
I am in your life forever.

Terribly, terribly disappointed in people again. I don’t know why I bother. I’ve always told myself to trust no one, but like an idiot I go out and do the exact opposite. What did I expect? Fool. People lie, T., people only care about themselves. So why did I have to go about feeling that the world is genuine and true, that hope springs eternal, and all that shit. I only get burned, trampled on, shook to the core. In the end, this is where I am again: left to pick up the pieces, left to the horrible realization that I could only rely on myself from now on. People are no good. I should have learned this by now. This is what walls are for, this is why I hardly talk to anyone, this is why, given the chance, I would live alone in a small house by the mountain, or the sea perhaps, where no one would bother me with foolish ideas like trust, family, love, respect. This is why I never share my poems anymore, this is why I am like that old man who writes and writes and writes but hides from the world. Because the world is terrible. People are terrible.

The Garden
Louise Glück

I couldn’t do it again,
I can hardly bear to look at it—

in the garden, in light rain
the young couple planting
a row of peas, as though
no one has ever done this before,
the great difficulties have never as yet
been faced and solved—

They cannot see themselves,
in fresh dirt, starting up
without perspective,
the hills behind them pale green,
clouded with flowers—

She wants to stop;
he wants to get to the end,
to stay with the thing—

Look at her, touching his cheek
to make a truce, her fingers
cool with spring rain;
in thin grass, bursts of purple crocus—

even here, even at the beginning of love,
her hand leaving his face makes
an image of departure

and they think
they are free to overlook
this sadness.

Walking through this poem slowly.

Louise Glück

Orange blossoms blowing over Castile
children begging for coins

I met my love under an orange tree
or was it an acacia tree
or was he not my love?

I read this, then I dreamed this:
can waking take back what happened to me?
Bells of San Miguel
ringing in the distance
his hair in the shadows blond-white

I dreamed this,
does that mean it didn’t happen?
Does it have to happen in the world to be real?

I dreamed everything, the story
became my story:

he lay beside me,
my hand grazed the skin of his shoulder

Mid-day, then early evening:
in the distance, the sound of a train

But it was not the world:
in the world, a thing happens finally, absolutely,
the mind cannot reverse it.

Castile: nuns walking in pairs through the dark garden.
Outside the walls of the Holy Angels
children begging for coins

When I woke I was crying,
has that no reality?

I met my love under an orange tree:
I have forg otten
only the facts, not the inference—
there were children, somewhere, crying, begging for coins

I dreamed everything, I gave myself
completely and for all time

And the train returned us
first to Madrid
then to the Basque country