Louise Gluck




Rain in the Summer

We were supposed to be, all of us,
a circle, a line at every point
equally weighted or tensed, equally
close to the center. I saw it
differently. In my mind, my parents
were the circle; my sister and I
were trapped inside.

Long Island. Terrible
storms off the Atlantic, summer rain
hitting the gray shingles. I watched
the copper beech, the dark leaves turning
a sort of lacquered ebony. It seemed to be
secure, as secure as the house.

It made sense to be housebound.
We were anyway: we couldn’t change who we were.
We couldn’t change even the smallest facts:
our long hair parted in the center,
secured with two barrettes. We embodied
those ideas of my mother’s
not appropriate to adult life.

Ideas of childhood: how to look, how to act.
Ideas of spirit: what gifts to claim, to develop.
Ideas of character: how to be driven, how to prevail,
how to triumph in the true manner of greatness
without seeming to lift a finger.

It was all going on much too long:
childhood, summer. But we were safe;
we lived in a closed form.