Louise Gluck




A Night in Spring

They told her she came out of a hole in her mother
but really it’s impossible to believe
something so delicate could come out of something
so fat—her mother naked
looks like a pig. She wants to think
the children telling her were making fun of her ignorance;
they think they can tell her anything
because she doesn’t come from the country, where people know these things.

She wants the subject to be finished, dead. It troubles her
to picture this space in her mother’s body,
releasing human beings now and again,
first hiding them, then dropping them into the world,

and all along drugging them, inspiring the same feelings
she attaches to her bed, this sense of solitude, this calm,
the sense of being unique—

Maybe her mother still has these feelings.
This could explain why she never sees
the great differences between the two of them

because at one point they were the same person—

She sees her face in the mirror, the small nose
sunk in fat, and at the same time she hears
the children’s laughter as they tell her
it doesn’t start in the face, stupid,
it starts in the body—

At night in bed, she pulls the quilt as high as possible,
up to her neck—
She has found this thing, a self,
and come to cherish it,
and now it will be packed away in flesh and lost—

And she feels her mother did this to her, meant this to happen.
Because whatever she may try to do with her mind,
her body will disobey,
that its complacency, its finality, will make her mind invisible,
no one will see—

Very gently, she moves the sheet aside.
And under it, there is her body, still beautiful and new
with no marks anywhere. And it seems to her still
identical to her mind, so consistent with it as to seem
transparent, almost,

and once again
she falls in love with it and vows to protect it.