Louise Gluck




Earthworm

Moral standing on top of the earth, refusing
to enter the earth: you tell yourself
you are able to see deeply
the conflicts of which you are made but, facing death,
you will not dig deeply—if you sense
that pity engulfs you, you are not
delusional: not all pity
descends from higher to lesser, some
arises out of the earth itself, persistent
yet devoid of coercion. We can be split in two, but you are
mutilated at the core, your mind
detached from your feelings—
repression does not deceive
organisms like ourselves:
once you enter the earth, you will not fear the earth;
once you inhabit your terror,
death will come to seem a web of channels or tunnels like
a sponge’s or honeycomb’s, which, as part of us,
you will be free to explore. Perhaps
you will find in these travels
a wholeness that eluded you—as men and women
you were never free
to register in your body whatever left
a mark on your spirit.