Louise Gluck


The night isn’t dark; the world is dark.
Stay with me a little longer.

Your hands on the back of the chair —
that’s what I’ll remember.
Before that, lightly stroking my shoulders.
Like a man training himself to avoid the heart.

In the other room, the maid discreetly
putting out the light I read by.

The room with its chalk walls —
how will it look to you I wonder
once your exile begins? I think your eyes will seek out
its light as opposed to the moon.
Apparently, after so many years, you need
distance to make plain its intensity.

Your hands on the chair, stroking
my body and the wood in exactly the same way.
Like a man who wants to feel longing again,
who prizes longing above all other emotion.

On the beach, voices of the Greek farmers,
impatient for sunrise.
As though dawn will change them
from farmers into heroes.

And before that, you are holding me because you are going away—
these are statements you are making,
not questions needing answers.

How can I know you love me
unless I see you grieve over me?