Aboriginal Landscape / Louise Glück

Aboriginal Landscape

Louise Glück


You’re stepping on your father, my mother said,

and indeed I was standing exactly in the center

of a bed of grass, mown so neatly it could have been

my father’s grave, although there was no stone saying so.


You’re stepping on your father, she repeated,

louder this time, which began to be strange to me,

since she was dead herself; even the doctor had admitted it.


I moved slightly to the side, to where

my father ended and my mother began.


The cemetery was silent. Wind blew through the trees;

I could hear, very faintly, sounds of  weeping several rows away,

and beyond that, a dog wailing.


At length these sounds abated. It crossed my mind

I had no memory of   being driven here,

to what now seemed a cemetery, though it could have been

a cemetery in my mind only; perhaps it was a park, or if not a park,

a garden or bower, perfumed, I now realized, with the scent of roses —

douceur de vivre filling the air, the sweetness of  living,

as the saying goes. At some point,


it occurred to me I was alone.

Where had the others gone,

my cousins and sister, Caitlin and Abigail?


By now the light was fading. Where was the car

waiting to take us home?


I then began seeking for some alternative. I felt

an impatience growing in me, approaching, I would say, anxiety.

Finally, in the distance, I made out a small train,

stopped, it seemed, behind some foliage, the conductor

lingering against a doorframe, smoking a cigarette.


Do not forget me, I cried, running now

over many plots, many mothers and fathers —


Do not forget me, I cried, when at last I reached him.

Madam, he said, pointing to the tracks,

surely you realize this is the end, the tracks do not go further.

His words were harsh, and yet his eyes were kind;

this encouraged me to press my case harder.

But they go back, I said, and I remarked

their sturdiness, as though they had many such returns ahead of them.


You know, he said, our work is difficult: we confront

much sorrow and disappointment.

He gazed at me with increasing frankness.

I was like you once, he added, in love with turbulence.


Now I spoke as to an old friend:

What of  you, I said, since he was free to leave,

have you no wish to go home,

to see the city again?

This is my home, he said.

The city — the city is where I disappear.


נוף קדומים / לואיז גליק


אַתְּ דּוֹרֶכֶת עַל אָבִיךְ, אָמְרָה אִמִּי,

וּבֶאֱמֶת עָמַדְתִּי אָז בְּטַבּוּרָהּ שֶׁל

עֲרוּגַת דְּשָׁאִים, שֶׁנִּגְזְמָה כָּל כָּךְ יָפֶה

שֶׁהִיא אוּלַי אָכֵן מְקוֹם קְבוּרַת אָבִי

הֲגַם שֶׁאֵין שָׁם מַצֵּבָה שֶׁתְּאַשֵּׁר זֹאת.


אַתְּ דּוֹרֶכֶת עַל אָבִיךְ, חָזְרָה אִמִּי

הַפַּעַם בְּקוֹל רָם, וְזֶה הִפְתִּיעַ, שֶׁכֵּן גַּם הִיא

כְּבָר מֵתָה. יֵשׁ אִשּׁוּר רוֹפֵא.


אָז זַזְתִּי קְצָת מִן הַמָּקוֹם שֶׁבּוֹ נִגְמַר אָבִי

וּבוֹ אִמִּי הִתְחִילָה.

בֵּית הַעָלְמִין הָיָה שָׁקֵט. רוּחַ נָשְׁבָה בּוֹ בֵּין הָעֲנָפִים.

נִשְׁמַע קוֹל בְּכִי רָפֶה מֶרְחָק שׁוּרוֹת מִמֶּנִּי;

מִשָּׁם וְהָלְאָה–קוֹל יְלָלָה שֶׁל כֶּלֶב.


וְאַחַר-כָּךְ כּבָר שָׁכְכוּ כָּל הַקּוֹלוֹת. וּבִי חָלַף הִרְהוּר

שֶׁכְּלָל אֵינִי זוֹכֶרֶת אֵיךְ לְכָאן הִגַּעְתִּי,

אֶל הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה שֶׁכַּנִּרְאֶה הוּא בֵּית-עָלְמִין. אֲבָל יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת

גַּם בֵּית-עָלְמִין פְּרי-דִּמְיוֹנִי, וְאוּלַי פַּארְק, וְאִם לֹא פַּארְק