* nerve, context, & the friday influence

The Red Poppy – Louise Gluck

The great thing

is not having

a mind.  Feelings:

oh, I have those; they

govern me.  I have

a lord in heaven

called the sun, and open

for him, showing him

the fire of my own heart, fire

like his presence.

What could such glory be

if not a heart?  Oh my brothers and sisters,

were you like me once, long ago,

before you were human?  Did you

permit yourselves

to open once, who would never

open again?  Because in truth

I am speaking now

the way you do.  I speak

because I am shattered.

 

***

The above poem is by Taurus and former Poet Laureate Louise Gluck.

The book where this poem comes from, The Wild Iris, changed the way I approached poems.  In the book, Gluck uses flowers as well as the metaphor of gardening to conduct a meditation/conversation with God.  Heady stuff.  But done with such lyrical directness and power that you can’t help but yearn and ache as you read.

I’m also a sucker for questions that hit like a thunderbolt: the poppy above knows a few of them.  The way Gluck pulls off such questions is through nerve and context.  In one of her essays in Proofs & Theories, Gluck talks about how she believes in the power of context.  Using the red poppy as context, the poet is able to have us bend our heads down to a flower and listen to what it could say about us.

***

Happy questioning!

J

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