Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Past

Small light in the sky appearing
suddenly between
two pine boughs, their fine needles

now etched onto the radiant surface
and above this
high, feathery heaven—

Smell the air. That is the smell of the white pine,
most intense when the wind blows through it
and the sound it makes equally strange,
like the sound of the wind in a movie—

Shadows moving. The ropes
making the sound they make. What you hear now
will be the sound of the nightingale, Chordata,
the male bird courting the female—

The ropes shift. The hammock
sways in the wind, tied
firmly between two pine trees.

Smell the air. That is the smell of the white pine.

It is my mother’s voice you hear
or is it only the sound the trees make
when the air passes through them

because what sound would it make,
passing through nothing?
 

Credit


From Faithful and Virtuous Night (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014) by Louise Glück. Copyright © 2014 Louise Glück. All rights reserved. 

Author


Louise Glück

The author of numerous collections of poetry, Louise Glück is the recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature, served as a Chancellor for the Academy of American Poets, and twas the Library of Congress’s poet laureate consultant in poetry.

Date Published: 2014-09-16

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/past-1