My great happiness
is the sound your voice makes
calling to me even in despair; my sorrow
that I cannot answer you
in speech you accept as mine.
You have no faith in your own language.
So you invest
authority in signs
you cannot read with any accuracy.
And yet your voice reaches me always.
And I answer constantly,
my anger passing
as winter passes. My tenderness
should be apparent to you
in the breeze of summer evening
and in the words that become
your own response.
I’ve raved about Gluck on this blog before, but it’s worth saying again – she is, in my opinion, one of the finest, most lyrical poets now writing.
This piece taken from Wild Iris, arguably her most praised collection (though personally I’m partial to Descending Figure) is classic Gluck – a quiet, heartfelt, deeply moving poem about the magic of voice, of sound. These are “words the become / your own response” and in them, as Gluck puts it herself, “my tenderness / should be apparent to you”. It should.
I really love this poem – the first six lines so rich, so visual, and then the flat statement of the seventh line with its ring of authentic truth, and then that last line, one of the finest ever written, the sudden turn into the personal, the immediate sense of flooding loss.