Sunday, October 25, 2009

Walking at Night By Louise Gluck

by Louise Gluck

Now that she is old,
the young men don't approach her
so the nights are free,
the streets at dusk that were so dangerous
have become as safe as the meadow.

By midnight, the town's quiet.
Moonlight reflects off the stone walls;
on the pavement, you can hear the nervous sounds
of the men rushing home to their wives and mothers; this late,
the doors are locked, the windows darkened.

When they pass, they don't notice her.
She's like a dry blade of grass in a field of grasses.
So her eyes that used never to leave the ground
are free now to go where they like.

When she's tired of the streets, in good weather she walks
in the fields where the town ends.
Sometimes, in summer, she goes as far as the river.

The young people used to gather not far from here
but now the river's grown shallow from lack of rain, so
the bank's deserted—

There were picnics then.
The boys and girls eventually paired off;
after a while, they made their way into the woods
where it's always twilight—

The woods would be empty now—
the naked bodies have found other places to hide.

In the river, there's just enough water for the night sky
to make patterns against the gray stones. The moon's bright,
one stone among many others. And the wind rises;
it blows the small trees that grow at the river's edge.

When you look at a body you see a history.
Once that body isn't seen anymore,
the story it tried to tell gets lost—

On nights like this, she'll walk as far as the bridge
before she turns back.
Everything still smells of summer.
And her body begins to seem again the body she had as a young woman,
glistening under the light summer clothing.

~~from "A Village Life"

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Linda S. Socha said...

This is absolutely wonderful. I am not familiar with this work. I am glad you shared it. Our Holiday celebration ( my husband's side of the family) will not be in La this year....possibly next.We will meet in Houston

I had hoped to have coffee with you! You are such a light. At some point I believe we may connect in the world of physical reality!


Marion said...

Hey, Linda! I'm glad you enjoyed the poem. There so many fine poets out there I'm happy to be able to share my favorites here. You'll be out of Tennessee and I'll be in Tennessee for Christmas this year! We're flying so it should be a fun trip. I haven't seen my grandkids there in over a year, so we're really looking forward to it. Yes, I hope we get to meet one day soon! Blessings!!

Kay said...

I love the imagery in this, abosultely stunning and heart felt... aging, an area of which peaks my interest very much, as we are all still the same person, even after time has wilted the vision percieved by others

love this piece, thank you for sharing it!

Pam said...

Love her! Have this!

Marion said...

Kay, so true. You are very welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed the poem. Blessings!

Pammie!! She's awesome, isn't she? I have "The Wild Iris" for which she won the Pulitzer. She's amazing. Thanks for stopping by. Blessings!

quid said...

New poet for me, ML. I really loved this, and, as usual, your illustrations are simpatico.


Marion said...

Thanks, Quid. Glad to see you back. Blessings!

Karen said...

I can certainly identify with her in this one. I can remember what it felt like not to be ignored. I'm not sure which is worse...

Renee said...

I would love my young body again. To move without any pain. Heaven.

Love Renee xoxo

Wine and Words said...

Oh I love this Marion. A beautiful reminder of one of the things that is good in elder years. That ability to look up and into eye, without it being mistaken for something other than what it is.

Margaret Pangert said...

Hi Marion! A woman who lives in the streets is so marginal. Sad, isn't it? At any age one should be able to feel accepted, see kindness in the eyes of others, feel safe. I like Gluck, very provocative. LOVE xxox

Judith Ellis said...

"When you look at a body you see a history.
Once that body isn't seen anymore,
the story it tried to tell gets lost—"

This immediately brought to mind when my brother passed looking at his body and thinking that nobody was there. For me, this brought home the point that our bodies allow physical access to the material world but it is clear that when you look at a loved one in repose, one who you have loved and shared, that the body is only a part of the being. Although the "body is not seen anymore," after burial the person the "story" remains. It's not "lost." But I clearly understand the emphasis in the poem on the body itself as that which is lost, touch, feel, smell in various stages that others acknowledge or not. But we are so much more than our bodies, as glorious and marvelously intricate as they are. Bodies are amazing! But perhaps we are too focused on the physical. The spirit can be empowering. Just some thoughts.

Thanks for sharing both the poem and photo, Marion.

Woman in a Window said...

Curious. I'm finding that as I shed it all, as I leave it behind and wear wrinkles like robes, I'm seen more. Funny. When I was younger, tight, taut, nubile, I was invisible. Curious. I do like her freedom, as I do like my own.

Phoenix said...

Beautiful poem! I love Louise Gluck so much :)

This one definitely has an autumn feeling to it! The summertime of her youth, slipping towards winter but not quite there yet...the woman herself is Autumn.

Gorgeous. Thanks for sharing :)

Marion said...

Thanks, my friends, for your kind comments. I do so appreciate you each and every one! I'm typing fast because bad weather is heading our way and I unplug my computer, just in case. LOL!

Renee, yes, to move without pain would be a joyous holiday. Long ago I postulated if the definition of pleasure was the absence of pain---before I had this pain---and I'll answer my own self with a resounding HELL, YES! Both of my knees hurt so badly (along with my back) that I've taken to wrapping them in ace bandages and using a cane. Thanks for stopping in, dear friend. Blessings!

Judith, that's a fascinating take on this poem and I have to say I agree with you. I've seen way too many dead bodies and they barely resembled the alive person...they looked like the empty shells they were. I have so many loved ones who have passed on---and I keep them very much alive with family stories. I hope and pray to finish my memoirs before I die to keep the stories alive. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. I love and appreciate you, dear lady! Blessings!

Marion said...

Annie, I laughed out loud at 'elder years'. Few of us boomers will ever admit to being 'elderly'. LOL! You rock! Blessings!

Erin, I missed you and I'm so glad you're back. No, you could never, ever be invisible, my poet-friend. Your spirit is too beautiful to not be seen. Love & Blessings!

Marion said...

Phoenix, yes, I thought that, too! Blessings!

Kelly said...

This one's new to me and I really like it!

Still working on the internet issues, but things are looking good!!