Louise Gluck




Via Delle Ombre

On most days, the sun wakes me.
Even on dark days, there's a lot of light in the mornings—
thin lines where the blinds don't come together.
It's morning—I open my eyes.
And every morning I see again how dirty this place is, how grim.
So I'm never late for work—this isn't a place to spend time in,
watching the dirt pile up as the sun brightens.

During the day at work, I forget about it.
I think about work: getting colored beads into plastic vials.
When I get home at dusk, the room is shadowy—
the shadow of the bureau covers the bare floor.
It's telling me whoever lives here is doomed.

When I'm in moods like that,
I go to a bar, watch sports on television.

Sometimes I talk to the owner.
He says moods don't mean anything—
the shadows mean night is coming, not that daylight will never return.
He tells me to move the bureau; I'll get different shadows, maybe
a different diagnosis.

If we're alone, he turns down the volume of the television.
The players keep crashing into each other
but all we hear are our own voices.

If there's no game, he'll pick a film.
It's the same thing—the sound stays off, so there's only images.
When the film's over, we compare notes, to see if we both saw the same story.
Sometimes we spend hours watching this junk.

When I walk home, it's night. You can't see for once how shabby the houses are.
The film is in my head: I tell myself I'm following the path of the hero.

The hero ventures out—that's dawn.
When he's gone, the camera collects pictures of other things.
When he gets back, it already knows everything there is to know,
just from watching the room.

There's no shadows now.
Inside the room, it's dark; the night air is cool.
In summer, you can smell the orange blossoms.
If there's wind, one tree will do it—you don't need the whole orchard.

I do what the hero does.
He opens the window. He has his reunion with the earth.