A Fantasy || Louis Gluck

I'll tell you something: every day
people are dying. And that's just the beginning.
Every day, in funeral homes, new widows are born,
new orphans. They sit with their hands folded,
trying to decide about this new life.

Then they're in the cemetery, some of them
for the first time. They're frightened of crying,
sometimes of not crying. Someone leans over,
tells them what to do next, which might mean
saying a few words, sometimes
throwing dirt in the open grave.

And after that, everyone goes back to the house,
which is suddenly full of visitors.
The widow sits on the couch, very stately,
so people line up to approach her,
sometimes take her hand, sometimes embrace her.
She finds something to say to everybody,
thanks them, thanks them for coming.

In her heart, she wants them to go away.
She wants to be back in the cemetery,
back in the sickroom, the hospital. She knows
it isn't possible. But it's her only hope,
the wish to move backward. And just a little,
not so far as the marriage, the first kiss.


What beautiful yet sad ending. Gluck has started this poem with a heavy drop of sadness and has managed, very gently, to give it a dose of life, a taste of being; she makes you feel and believe that there's sadness everywhere, that life is sadness. And eventhough such meaning, or such declaration is deemed "negative" or "bad", is it really? What makes sadness, and its acceptance bad for life? What is wrong with loneliness when it is also just a human emotion, what's wrong about wanting to be sad?

Everything here is true. Yes, it is about loss, but what astonishes me about her poem is the way she makes you feel how the honesty in her words. Gluck, you make me sad. You have a hold on me that is very special; a feeling so remote yet so alive. Even if its sadness, I will take its beauty and hold it near me, even for just tonight.

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