Louise Gluck




Dawn

1 
Child waking up in a dark room 
screaming I want my duck back, I want my duck back 

in a language nobody understands in the least — 

There is no duck. 

But the dog, all upholstered in white plush — 
the dog is right there in the crib next to him. 

Years and years — that’s how much time passes. 
All in a dream. But the duck — 
no one knows what happened to that. 

2 
They’ve just met, now 
they’re sleeping near an open window. 

Partly to wake them to assure them 
that what they remember the night is correct, 
now light needs to enter the room, 

also to show them the context in which this occurred: 
socks half hidden under a dirty mat, 
quilt decorated with green leaves — 

the sunlight specifying 
these but not other objects, 
setting boundaries, sure itself lot arbitrary, 

then lingering, describing 
each thing in detail, 
fastidious, like a composition in English, 
even a little blood on the sheets — 

3 
Afterward, they separate for the day. 
Even later, at a desk, in the market, 
the manager not satisfied with the figures he’s given, 
the berries moldy under the topmost layer — 

so that one withdraws from the world 
even as one continues to take action in it — 

You get home, that’s when you notice the mold. 
Too late, in other words. 

As though the sun blinded you for a moment.