Louise Gluck


The world was very large. Then
the world was small. O
very small, small enough
to fit in a brain.

It had no color, it was all
interior space: nothing
got in or out. But time
seeped in anyway, that
was the tragic dimension.

I took time very seriously in those years,
if I remember accurately.

A room with a chair, a window.
A small window, filled with the pattern light makes.
In its emptiness the world

was whole always, not
a chip of something, with
the self at the center.

And at the center of the self,
grief I thought I couldn’t survive.

A room with a bed, a table. Flashes
of light on the naked surfaces.

I had two desires: desire
to be safe and desire to feel. As though

the world were making
a decision against white
because it disdained potential
and wanted in its place substance:

of gold where the light struck.
In the windows, reddish
leaves of the copper beech tree.

Out of the stasis, facts, objects
blurred or knitted together: somewhere

time stirring, time
crying to be touched, to be

the polished wood
shimmering with distinctions—

and then I was once more
a child in the presence of riches
and I didn’t know what the riches were made of.