Night covers the pond with its wing.
Under the ringed moon I can make out
your face swimming among minnows and the small
echoing stars. In the night air
the surface of the pond is metal.
Within, your eyes are open. They contain
a memory I recognize, as though
we had been children together. Our ponies
grazed on the hill, they were gray
with white markings. Now they graze
with the dead who wait
like children under their granite breastplates,
lucid and helpless:
The hills are far away. They rise up
blacker than childhood.
What do you think of, lying so quietly
by the water? When you look that way I want
to touch you, but do not, seeing
as in another life we were of the same blood.
You have only to wait, they will find you.
The geese flying low over the marsh,
glittering in black water.
They find you.
And the deer –
how beautiful they are,
as though their bodies did not impede them.
Slowly they drift into the open
through bronze panels of sunlight.
Why would they stand so still
if they were not waiting?
Almost motionless, until their cages rust,
the shrubs shiver in the wind,
squat and leafless.
You have only to let it happen:
that cry – release, release – like the moon
wrenched out of earth and rising
full in its circle of arrows
until they come before you
like dead things, saddled with flesh,
and you above them, wounded and dominant.
(both poems taken from The House on the Marshland, a collection by Louise Glück published in 1975)
(note: I inserted underscores in order to break the stanzas, for some reason wordpress wants to condense the stanzas into one big thing)
Glück, Louise. The First Four Books of Poems. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco, 1995. Print.
I love The Pond by Gluck, its perhaps my favorite poem of all time. All the years I’ve known it, and have gone over it again and again, I’m still not sure what it must’ve meant for the author, or what her intent is, but I do know that it invokes some resonant imagery for me that resembles something that could be called painful nostalgia. I know poets won’t ever discuss their poems, or what they meant to them, but I’d love to be able to talk to Gluck about that particular poem.