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Telemachus’ Fantasy

by Louise Glück


Sometimes I wonder about my father’s
years on those islands: why
was he so attractive
to women? He was in straits then, I suppose
desperate. I believe
women like to see a man
still whole, still standing, but
about to go to pieces: such
disintegration reminds them
of passion. I think of them as living
their whole lives
completely undressed. It must have
dazzled him, I think, women
so much younger than
he was evidently
wild for him, ready
to do anything he wished. Is it
fortunate to encounter circumstances
so responsive to one’s own will, to live
so many years
unquestioned, unthwarted? One
would have to believe oneself
entirely good or worthy. I
suppose in time either
one becomes a monster or
the beloved sees what one is. I never
wish for my father’s life
nor have I any idea
what he sacrificed
to survive that moment. Less dangerous
to believe he was drawn to them
and so stayed
to see who they were. I think, though,
as an imaginative man
to some extent he
became who they were.


Louise Glück’s most recent book is a collection of essays, Proofs and Theories (Ecco, 1995). A new collection of her poetry is due out in 1996.

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