by Louise Gluck

copyright © 2009 by Louise Gluck

All winter he sleeps.
Then he gets up, he shaves –
it takes a long time to become a man again
his face in the mirror bristles with dark hair.

The earth now is like a woman, waiting for him.
A great hopefulness – that’s what binds them together,
himself and this woman.

Now he has to work all day to prove he deserves what he has.
Midday: he’s tired, he’s thirsty.
But if he quits now he’ll have nothing.

The sweat covering his back and arms
is like his life pouring out of him
with nothing replacing it.

He works like an animal, then
like a machine, with no feeling.
But the bond will never break
though the earth fights back now, wild in the summer heat –

He squats down, letting the dirt run through his fingers.

The sun goes down, the dark comes.
Now that summer’s over, the earth is hard, cold;
by the road, a few isolated fires burn.

Nothing remains of love,
only estrangement and hatred.