louise gluck – ripe peach

Gustav_Klimt_020 3 ages of woma

Gustav Klimt – “The Three Ages of Woman”

There was a time
only certainty gave me
any joy. Imagine —
certainty, a dead thing.

And then the world,
the experiment.
The obscene mouth
famished with love —
it is like love:
the abrupt, hard
certainty of the end —

In the center of the mind,
the hard pit,
the conclusion. As though
the fruit itself
never existed, only
the end, the point
midway between
anticipation and nostalgia —

So much fear.
So much terror of the physical world.
The mind frantic
guarding the body from
the passing, the temporary,
the body straining against it —

A peach on the kitchen table.
A replica. It is the earth,
the same
disappearing sweetness
surrounding the stone end,
and like the earth
available —

An opportunity
for happiness: earth
we cannot possess
only experience — And now
sensation: the mind
silenced by fruit —

They are not
reconciled. The body
here, the mind
separate, not
merely a warden:
it has separate joys.
It is the night sky,
the fiercest stars are its immaculate distinctions–

Can it survive? Is there
light that survives the end
in which the mind’s enterprise
continues to live: though
darting about the room,
above the bowl of fruit–

Fifty years. the night sky
filled with shooting stars.
Light, music
from far away — I must be
nearly gone. I must be
stone, since the earth
surrounds me —

There was
a peach in a wicker basket.
There was a bowl of fruit.
Fifty years. Such a long walk
from the door to the table.

From The Seven Ages (Ecco/Harper Collins, 2001)

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