Friday, August 14, 2009

"The Wild Iris" by Louise Gluck

Critic Robert Christgau commented once that Eric Clapton was a classy blues guitarist who was perfect for the tasty, brief statement but who had the habit of playing in long form and , consequently, losing emphasis, momentum, and gaining only redundancy. Something similar might apply to Gluck, who's strengths can be seen here, a confident voice, a sense of place, a subject addressed directly and indirectly without drift in a voice that still has the capacity to be surprised. This is a wonderful lyric, as much as other of her admirers might object to the term; she sounds like she had an idea of what she was trying to achieve. --tb

The Wild Iris

At the end of my suffering
there was a door.

Hear me out: that which you call death
I remember.

Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.

It is terrible to survive
as consciousness
buried in the dark earth.

Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.

You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:

from the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure sea water.

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