Page 36 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
Maybe that explains why his death wasn’t moving.
A wooden god, a weakened hierarchy, has led to inertia. Life
c a n n o t move fo rw a rd . R e la tionsh ips a re nega tive , n o n ­
functional: “I t’s how they were raised: you show respect by
fighting./ To let up insults the opponen t” (“Windows”). And
in “Confession”:
To say I ’m without fear
it wouldn’t be true.
I ’m afraid of sickness, humiliation.
Like anyone, I have my dreams.
But I ’ve learned to hide them,
to protect myself
from fulfillment: all happiness
attracts the Fates’ anger.
Bitterness spews forth like toxins that have to be released in
o rde r to make way for the new, prophetic vision. The biblical
God’s requ irem en t o f a broken heart has become the only ac­
ceptable spiritual point o f reentry.
O f what value besides catharsis for the poet, one might ask,
are poems about hatred , hostility, relationships o f manipulation
and control? In the poem, “Celestial Music,” Gluck sets up a
dialogue between “a fr iend” and herself in o rd e r to air he r p e r­
sonal anguish about the limitations o f the Jewish deity:
My friend says I shut my eyes to god, that nothing
else
explains
my aversion to reality. She says I ’m like the
child who buries
her head in the pillow
so as not to see, the child who tells herself
that light causes sadness.
T h e poem concludes, “T h e love o f form is a love o f end ings.”
In Jewish tradition, the love o f endings is acceptance o f lim­
itation. Limited love, o r love/death that cancels out immortality
by walling up the psyche, is a belief system that manifests neg­
ativity, unworthiness, self-flagellation. I f limitation invites dis­
ease, Gluck is a willing recipient, a poet who accurately m irrors
the age o f angst.
T h e final poem o f the collection, “First Memory,” is an in­