Reading what I have just written, I now believe
I stopped precipitously, so that my story seems to have been
slightly distorted, ending, as it did, not abruptly
but in a kind of artificial mist of the sort
sprayed onto stages to allow for difficult set changes.
Why did I stop? Did some instinct
discern a shape, the artist in me
intervening to stop traffic, as it were?
A shape. Or fate, as the poets say,
intuited in those few long ago hours—
I must have thought so once.
And yet I dislike the term
which seems to me a crutch, a phase,
the adolescence of the mind, perhaps—
Still, it was a term I used myself,
frequently to explain my failures.
Fate, destiny, whose designs and warnings
now seem to me simply
local symmetries, metonymic
baubles within immense confusion—
Chaos was what I saw.
My brush froze—I could not paint it.
—Louise Glück, opening lines to “Afterword,” from Poetry (January 2012)