Louise Gluck




Fable

We had, each of us, a set of wishes.
The number changed. And what we wished—
that changed also. Because
we had, all of us, such different dreams.

The wishes were all different, the hopes all different.
And the disasters and catastrophes, always different.

In great waves they left the earth,
even the one that is always wasted.

Waves of despair, waves of hopeless longing and heartache.
Waves of the mysterious wild hungers of youth, the dreams of childhood.
Detailed, urgent; once in a while, selfless.

All different, except of course
the wish to go back. Inevitably
last or first, repeated
over and over—

So the echo lingered. And the wish
held us and tormented us
though we knew in our own bodies
it was never granted.

We knew, and on dark nights, we acknowledge this.
How sweet the night became then,
once the wish released us,
how utterly silent.