louise gluck – ripe peach

Gustav_Klimt_020 3 ages of woma

Gustav Klimt – “The Three Ages of Woman”

1
There was a time
only certainty gave me
any joy. Imagine —
certainty, a dead thing.

2
And then the world,
the experiment.
The obscene mouth
famished with love —
it is like love:
the abrupt, hard
certainty of the end —

3
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 —

4
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 —

5
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 —

6
An opportunity
for happiness: earth
we cannot possess
only experience — And now
sensation: the mind
silenced by fruit —

7
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–

8
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–

9
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 —

10
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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