Today, a poem by Louise Gluck, words that perfectly encapsulate what I’d really like to say when people ask, “how are you?” But then one does not usually spout poetry when asked how they are, although I might start doing just that. No longer a believer in signs, or even in courage (is it heedlessness? Ignorance? Stubbornness?) Is it courage that helps us live with loss? I don’t think so. It’s the pacing, the walking, the pretending to be doing something else, and then the silence, the empty hands open, the moving on, signless. This great still song at the center of everything – simple, strong notes beating fire.
You want to know how I spend my time?
I walk the front lawn, pretending
to be weeding. You ought to know
I’m never weeding, on my knees, pulling
clumps of clover from the flower beds: in fact
I’m looking for courage, for some evidence
my life will change, though
it takes forever, checking
each clump for the symbolic
leaf, and soon the summer is ending, already
the leaves are turning, always the sick trees
going first, the dying turning
brilliant yellow, while a few dark birds perform
their curfew of music. You want to see my hands?
As empty now as at the first note.
Or was the point always
to continue without a sign?
From Wild Iris (Ecco Press, 1992)