End of Summer by Louise Gluck

After all things occurred to me,
the void occurred to me.

There is a limit
to the pleasure I had in form–

I am not like you in this,
I have no release in another body,

I have no need
of shelter outside myself–

My poor inspired
creation, you are
distractions, finally,
mere curtailment; you are
too little like me in the end
to please me.

And so adamant–
you want to be paid off
for your disappearance,
all paid in some part of the earth,
some souvenir, as you were once
rewarded for labor,
the scribe being paid
in silver, the shepherd in barley

although it is not earth
that is lasting, not
these small chips of matter–

If you would open your eyes
you would see me, you would see
the emptiness of heaven
mirrored on earth, the fields
vacant again, lifeless, covered with snow–

then white light
no longer disguised as matter.


Vespers by Louise Gluck

Once I believed in you; I planted a fig tree.
Here, in Vermont, country
of no summer. It was a test: if the tree lived,
it would mean you existed.

By this logic, you do not exist. Or you exist
exclusively in warmer climates,
in fervent Sicily and Mexico and California,
where are grown the unimaginable
apricot and fragile peach. Perhaps
they see your face in Sicily; here, we barely see
the hem of your garment. I have to discipline myself
to share with John and Noah the tomato crop.

If there is Justice, in some other world, those
like myself, whom nature forces
into lives of abstinence, should get
the lion’s share of things, all
objects of hunger, greed being
praise of you. And no one praises
more intensely than I, with more
painfully checked desire, or more deserves
to sit at your right hand, if it exists, partaking
of the perishable, the immortal fig,
which does not travel.