Episode 2: Louise Glück & Yusef Komunyakaa


Louise Glück

In your extended absence, you permit me
use of earth, anticipating
some return on investment. I must report
failure in my assignment, principally
regarding the tomato plants.
I think I should not be encouraged to grow
tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold
the heavy rains, the cold nights that come
so often here, while other regions get
twelve weeks of summer. All this
belongs to you: on the other hand,
I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots
like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart
broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly
multiplying in the rows. I doubt
you have a heart, in our understanding of
that term. You who do not discriminate
between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence,
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,
the red leaves of the maple falling
even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible
for these vines.

After Summer Fell Apart

Yusef Komunyakaa

I can’t touch you. 
His face always returns; 
we exchange long looks
in each bad dream
& what I see, my God. 
Honey, sweetheart, 
I hold you against me
but nothing works. 
Two boats moored, 
rocking between nowhere
& nowhere. 
A bone inside me whispers
maybe tonight, 
but I keep thinking
about the two men wrestling nude
in Lawrence’s Women in Love
I can’t get past
reels of breath unwinding. 
He has you. Now
he doesn’t. He has you
again. Now he doesn’t. 

You’re at the edge of azaleas
shaken loose by a word. 
I see your rose-colored
skirt unfurl. 
He has a knife
to your throat, 
night birds come back
to their branches. 
A hard wind raps at the door, 
the new year prowling
in a black overcoat. 
It’s been six months
since we made love. 
Tonight I look at you
hugging the pillow, 
half smiling in your sleep. 
I want to shake you & ask
who. Again I touch myself, 
unashamed, until
his face comes into focus. 
He’s stolen something
from me & I don’t know
if it has a name or not— 
like counting your ribs
with one foolish hand
& mine with the other.