Louise Glück

Parable of the Trellis

A clematis grew at the foot of a great trellis.
Despite being
modeled on a tree, the trellis
was a human invention; every year, in May,
the green wires of the struggling vine
climbed the straightforward
trellis, and after many years
white flowers burst from the brittle wood, like
a star shower from the heart of the garden.

Enough of that ruse. We both know
how the vine grows without
the trellis, how it sneaks
along the ground; we have both seen it
flower there, the white blossoms
like headlights growing out of a snake.

This isn’t what the vine wants.
Remember, to the vine, the trellis
was never an image of confinement:
this is not
diminishment or tragedy.

The vine has a dream of light:
what is life in the dirt
with its dark freedoms
compared to supported ascent?

And for a time,
every summer we could see the vine
relive this decision, thus
obscuring the wood, structure
beautiful in itself, like
a harbor or willow tree.