Thursday, October 30, 2014

Then I light the candle

Another landscape taken from the moving car on the recent trip.
A place, and lives, only passed by and imagined.

Tonight I picked up A Village Light, one of Louise Gluck's perfect volumes of poetry set in a certain slightly removed, place and time. These books (there are several of them, including Averno) have a unity that makes them a pleasure to read, only partly because of this unity. You enter another world, a world similar to the one you live in, and with many familiar features, but with a compelling character all its own. Tonight's poem is the first poem in the book, and I have already marked two others to share here later.


All day he works at his cousin's mill,
so when he gets home at night, he always sits at this one window,
sees one time of day, twilight.
There should be more time like this to sit and dream.
It's as hi cousin says:
Living, living takes you away from sitting.

In the window, not the world but a squared-off landscape
representing the world. The seasons change,
each visible only a few hours a day.
Green things followed by golden things followed by whiteness---
abstractions from which come intense pleasures,
like the figs on the table.

At dusk the sun goes down in a haze of red fire between two                                                                                                             poplars,
It goes down late in summer--sometimes it's hard to stay awake.

Then everything fall away.
The world for a little longer
is something to see, then only something to hear
crickets, cicadas.
Or to smell sometimes, aroma of lemon trees, or orange tree.
Then sleep takes this away also.

But it's easy to give things up like, this, experimentally,
for a matter of hours.

I open my fingers---
I let everything go.

Visual world, language,
rustling of leaves in the night,
smell of high grass, of woodsmoke.

I let it go, then I light the candle.

Louise Gluck, 

A Village Life, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009, page 3.

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