Louise Gluck is a contemporary poet who often writes about the natural world and captures the surprise of it, even in familiar landscapes. No matter how many times you see trillium on the Island, they are always stunning. This poem captures that beauty in such a way I didn’t know it could be put to words.
Read this poem outloud and then, if you are feeling bold, act it out.
Trillium by Louise Gluck
When I woke up I was in a forest. The dark
seemed natural, the sky through the pine trees
thick with many lights.
I knew nothing; I could do nothing but see.
And as I watched, all the lights of heaven
faded to make a single thing, a fire
burning through the cool firs.
Then it wasn’t possible any longer
to stare at heaven and not be destroyed.
Are there souls that need
death’s presence, as I require protection?
I think if I speak long enough
I will answer that question, I will see
whatever they see, a ladder
reaching through the firs, whatever
calls them to exchange their lives—
Think what I understand already.
I woke up ignorant in a forest;
only a moment ago, I didn’t know my voice
if one were given to me
would be so full of grief, my sentences
like cries strung together.
I didn’t even know I felt grief
until that word came, until I felt
rain streaming from me.