CROSSROADSby Louise Glück
My body, now that we will not be taking a trip together much longerI begin to feel a brand-new inflammation towards you, unfamiliar and really raw, like what I remember of love when I was young–.
love that was so often silly in its objectivesbut never in its options, its intensitiesToo much required beforehand, too much that could not be promised–.
My soul has been so afraid, so violent; forgive its brutality.As though it were that soul, my hand moves over you carefully,.
not wishing to provide offensebut excited, finally, to attain expression as compound:.
it is not the earth I will miss out on, it is you I will miss out on.
Complement with astronomer and poet Rebecca Elsons staggering “Antidotes to Fear of Death,” made up as her own body was cusping over the untimely horizon of nonbeing, and poet Lisel Mueller, who lived to 96, on what provides meaning to our ephemeral lives, then revisit physicist Brian Greene on death and our search for significance and the remarkable history of how the birth of astrophotography altered our relationship to death.
A generation after Walt Whitman declared himself “the poet of the body and the poet of the soul,” animated by an electrical awareness of how interleaved the two are– how the body is the locus of “the real I myself”– the pioneering psychologist and thinker William James transformed our understanding of life with his theory of how our bodies affect our sensations. The body is the location, the only location, where we live– it is where we experience time, it is where we recover from psychological trauma, it is the seat of consciousness, without which there is nothing. We remember the body, this solitary and sole arena of being.
That is what poet Louise Glück, laureate of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature, checks out in the short, spectacular poem “Crossroads,” originally published in her 2009 book A Village Life, later on included in her indispensable gathered Poems 1962– 2012 (public library), and read here by the poet herself for the 2010 Griffin Poetry Prize.