The Untrustworthy Speaker

By Louise Glück b. 1943 Louise Gluck
Don’t listen to me; my heart’s been broken.
I don’t see anything objectively.

I know myself; I’ve learned to hear like a psychiatrist.
When I speak passionately,
that’s when I’m least to be trusted.

It’s very sad, really: all my life, I’ve been praised
for my intelligence, my powers of language, of insight.
In the end, they’re wasted—

I never see myself,
standing on the front steps, holding my sister’s hand.
That’s why I can’t account
for the bruises on her arm, where the sleeve ends.

In my own mind, I’m invisible: that’s why I’m dangerous.
People like me, who seem selfless,
we’re the cripples, the liars;
we’re the ones who should be factored out
in the interest of truth.

When I’m quiet, that’s when the truth emerges.
A clear sky, the clouds like white fibers.
Underneath, a little gray house, the azaleas
red and bright pink.

If you want the truth, you have to close yourself
to the older daughter, block her out:
when a living thing is hurt like that,
in its deepest workings,
all function is altered.

That’s why I’m not to be trusted.
Because a wound to the heart
is also a wound to the mind.

"The Untrustworthy Speaker" by Louise Glück, from Ararat. Copyright © 1990 by Louise Glück. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, www.harpercollins.com.

Source: Ararat (The Ecco Press, 1990)

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Poet Louise Glück b. 1943

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Love, Home Life, Relationships, Sorrow & Grieving, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Confessional

 Louise  Glück

Biography

Louise Glück is considered by many to be one of America’s most talented contemporary poets. The poet Robert Hass has called her “one of the purest and most accomplished lyric poets now writing,” and her poetry is noted for its technical precision, sensitivity, and insight into loneliness, family relationships, divorce, and death. Frequently described as “spare,” James K. Robinson in Contemporary Women Poets also noted that . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Love, Home Life, Relationships, Sorrow & Grieving, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Confessional

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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