by Louise Gluck

All day he works at his cousin’s mill,

so when he gets home at night, he always sits at this one window,

sees one time of day, twilight.

There should be more time like this, to sit and dream.

It’s as his cousin says:

Living–living takes you away from sitting.

In the window, not the world but a squared-off landscape

representing the world. The seasons change,

each visible only a few hours a day.

Green things followed by golden things followed by whiteness–abstractions from which come intense pleasures,

like figs on the table.

At dusk, the sun goes down in a haze of red fire between two poplars.

It goes down late in summer–sometimes it’s hard to stay awake.

Then everything falls away.

The world for a little longer

is something to see, then only something to hear,

crickets, cicadas.

Or to smell sometimes, aroma of lemon trees, of orange trees.

Then sleep takes this away also.

But it’s easy to give things up like this, experimentally,

for a matter of hours.

I open my fingers–I let everything go.

Visual world, language,

rustling of leaves in the night,

smell of high grass, of woodsmoke.

I let it go, then I light the candle.

            –from A Village Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009)

Gluck is one of our finest poets. Her writing has a natural elegance, a clean austerity of form, and a poignant attention to passion, age, change, life and the world that surrounds us. A Village Life is a relatively recent collection, published when Gluck was about my current age, 67, and it touches on mortality with an insightful persistence and a calm, compassionate integrity. Mortality may be her subject but life is her muse and so she has become mine, a guide to what’s ahead and how to be in it. Then, I light a candle.

Read yesterday’s Thought. Thought of the Day (TOD) is selected by Rick Larios, Monday-Friday, minus public holidays and an arbitrarily chosen summer vacation. Saturday and Sunday, Stacey will be selecting TODs from the archives of past postings. Often, but not always, a comment comes with the quote. TOD originates as a personal email list-sharing and is further shared here with permission. A poem appears in full on Fridays; the copyright belongs to the poet and/or publisher. Buy poetry you like. It will be good for you, good for poets, and order from your local community bookstore and it will be good for them too.