From Louise Gluck’s “Fugue”

I’m posting a series of poems and excerpts from poems and essay that I love. Today’s is from Louise Gluck’s poem “Fugue,” from the book Averno. The mix of memory and myth creates magic.





I had a dream: my mother fell out of a tree.

After she died, the tree died:

it had outlived its function.

My mother was unharmed—her arrows disappeared, her wings

turned into arms. Fire creatures. Sagittarius. She finds herself in—


a suburban garden. It is coming back to me.


I put the book aside. What is a soul?

A flag flown

too high on the pole, if you know what I mean.


The body

cowers in the dreamlike underbrush.


Well, we are here to do something about that.


(In a German accent.)


I had a dream: we are at war.

My mother leaves her crossbow in the high grass.


(Sagittarius, the archer.)


My childhood, closed to me forever,

turned gold like an autumn garden,

mulched with a thick layer of salt marsh hay.


A golden bow: a useful gift in wartime.


How heavy it was—no child could pick it up.


Except me: I could pick it up.



                        Louise Glück


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