Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Nobody dies, nobody goes hungry. . ."

Perhaps all this snow in the Treasure Valley 
has made me think again about summer. 
The other night, when I got up in the dark, the moon 
was directly overhead in the skylight here in Idaho.
This photo is our same moon as seen last year.
I was going to save this poem from Gluck's book
for the summer, but it has turned up in the Paris Review
and The American Poet, and soon I fear 
it will have been printed everywhere!


A cool wind blows on summer evenings, stirring the wheat.
The wheat bends, the leaves of the peach trees
rustle in the night ahead.

In the dark, a boy’s crossing the field:
for the first time, he’s touched a girl
so he walks home a man, with a man’s hungers.

Slowly the fruit ripens—
baskets and baskets from a single tree
so some rots every year
and for a few weeks there’s too much:
before and after, nothing.

Between the rows of wheat
you can see the mice, flashing and scurrying
across the earth, though the wheat towers above them,
churning as the summer wind blows.

The moon is full. A strange sound
comes from the field—maybe the wind.

But for the mice it’s a night like any summer night.
Fruit and grain: a time of abundance.
Nobody dies, nobody goes hungry.

No sound except the roar of the wheat.

Louise Gluck
Poems 1962-2012, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013, 
Kindle location 7916

There is an entire philosophy in this poem; it is terrifying, but real and clearly expressed.

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