Louise Glück

Winter Morning


Today, when I woke up, I asked myself 
why did Christ die? Who knows 
the meaning of such questions?

It was a winter morning, unbelievably cold. 
So the thoughts went on, 
from each question came 
another question, like a twig from a branch, 
like a branch from a black trunk.


At a time like this 
a young woman traveled through the desert settlements 
looking neither forward nor backward, 
sitting in perfect composure on the tired animal 
as the child stirred, still sealed in its profound attachment—
The husband walked slightly ahead, older, out of place; 
increasingly, the mule stumbled, the path becoming 
difficult in darkness, though they persisted 
in a world like our world, not ruled 
by man but by a statue in heaven—


Above the crowds representing 
humankind, the lost 
citizens of a remote time,

the insulted body 
raised on a cross like a criminal 
to die publicly 
above Jerusalem, the shimmering city

while in great flocks 
birds circled the body, not partial 
to this form over the others

since men were all alike,
defeated by the air,

whereas in air
the body of a bird becomes a banner:

But the lesson that was needed
was another lesson.