Two for Tuesday: Two sections from Louise Glück’s poem “Marathon”
Tuesday afternoon, cloudy and temperate, 63 degrees.
So for a few hours today I thought that it was Monday, and I was going to write a regular post, and then I looked at the weather and realized that nope . . . it was Tuesday. Honestly, I’m no longer even surprised when this happens.
My back was better yesterday, but then a migraine hit, hard, and then it came roaring back during the night. However, I was able to get back to sleep this morning, and I managed to get a few good hours. That being said, the back situation is bad again—t’s just more of that vicious cycle that is my body’s daily existence.
As you know, I’m a huge lover of Louise Glück’s poems. Today I’m featuring two sections of her longer poem “Marathon,” which appears in The Triumph of Achilles (1985); the 26 poems in this book are are arranged in three parts, of which “Marathon” is the center; this poem contains nine sections.
Although this poem traces a relationship, I have chosen these two particular sections because of the imagery that I find so relatable. In particular, I feel as if I’ve had a version of the dream that she recounts in section 6, “The Beginning.” I cannot begin to count the number of times in which I’ve dreamed that I was in a different city in which I am lost and looking for something. This, precisely, is why I have such an affinity for Glück’s work.
More later. Peace.
5. Night Song
Look up into the light of the lantern.
Don’t you see? The calm of darkness
is the horror of Heaven.
We’ve been apart too long, too painfully separated.
How can you bear to dream,
to give up watching? I think you must be dreaming.
your face is full of mild expectancy.
I need to wake you, to remind you that there isn’t a future.
That’s why we’re free. And now some weakness in me
has been cured forever, so I’m not compelled
to close my eyes, to go back to rectify—
The beach is still; the sea, cleansed of its superfluous life,
opaque, rocklike. In mounds in vegetal clusters,
seabirds sleep on the jetty. Terns, assassins—
You’re tired; I can see that.
We’re both tired, we have acted in a great drama.
Even our hands our cold, that were like kindling.
Our clothes are scattered on the sand; strangely enough,
they never turned to ashes.
I have to tell you what I’ve learned, that I know now
what happens to the dreamers.
They don’t feel it when they change. One day
they wake, they dress, they are old.
Tonight I’m not afraid
to feel the revolutions. How can you want sleep
when passion gives you that peace?
You’re like me tonight, one of the lucky ones.
You’ll get what you want. You’ll get your oblivion.
6. The Beginning
I had come to a strange city, without belongings:
in the dream, it was your city, I was looking for you.
Then I was lost, on a dark street lined with fruit stands.
There was only fruit: blood oranges.
The markets made displays of them beautiful displays—
how else could they compete? And each arrangement had, at its center,
one fruit, cut open.
Then I was on a boulevard, in brilliant sunlight.
I was running; it was easy to run, since I had nothing.
In the distance, I could see your house; a woman knelt in the yard.
There were roses everywhere; in waves, they climbed the high trellis.
Then what began as love for you
became a hunger for structure: I could hear
the woman call to me in common kindness, knowing
I wouldn’t ask for you anymore—
So it was settled: I could have a childhood there.
Which came to mean being always alone.
Music by Manchester Orchestra, “The Silence”