Postpartum Blues

By Elton Glaser b. 1945 Elton Glaser
Soon the glass angel must be
Wrapped and packed and put away,
And this hard year swept out
Like tinsel from the Christmas tree—
The end of December, aromatic
In its homely smoke, and the thin limbs
Of maple and ash, the pipecleaner pines,
Brushing themselves against
The cold carbons of evening.

I've watched the ice turn
Little knifeblades in the grass.
Sly beneath them, the mole
Knows what to do with dirt—
Shoulder it aside, crumb by claw,
And build a city deep,
A labyrinth of dark
Under the stone and the root.
I think I could live there.

I think I could make
A music of my own. Thinking
Makes a music of its own.
You can hear it when
Some stray phrase stumbles down
The rabbit hole, a few words
That broke from the brain
And won't go back, always
One step ahead of the real.

But what's in the way
To the way in? God,
That desperate explanation,
Mentor and tormentor, giving us
The duties of paradise,

Obligations of the saved?
And is my way in
This abyss of the belly, where they
Tied the first knot in my life?
Even the virgin must have felt
The postpartum blues, crazy enough
To pin sweet curls in her hair,
Shavings she picked up from
The floor of the carpenter's shop.
I think I can still hear
The baby wailing. Or is that cry
The dead beating on their graves
For the earth to open—

And to let them out, or to let us in?

Source: Poetry (December 2000).

 Elton  Glaser


A longtime resident of Ohio, poet Elton Glaser was born and raised in Louisiana and earned an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. Glaser’s collections of poetry include Relics (1984); Tropical Depressions (1988), which won the Iowa Poetry Prize; Color Photographs of the Ruins (1992); Winter Amnesties (2000); and Pelican Tracks (2003). His sixth collection, Here and Hereafter (2005), received the Arkansas Poetry . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Sorrow & Grieving, Winter, Birth & Birthdays, Nature, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Death, Parenthood

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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