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Poem of the week: A Work of Fiction by Louise Glück

Glück's prose-poem combines meditation with anecdote as she remembers the moment of loss after finishing a novel

The expansive, leisurely poems in the new collection, Faithful and Virtuous Night, by Louise Glück, are interspersed with one-paragraph prose-poems miniature parables often framed as personal anecdotes, like this week's choice, A Work of Fiction.

"I was torn between a structure of oppositions/ and a narrative structure", Glück writes in the book's neighbouring poem, The Story of a Day. It's a moment that sets you thinking about the differences and similarities between poetic and fictional storytelling. Inspired by her "faithful and virtuous" knight the night Glück is a mistress of the master-narrative, the narrative-as-meditation, in which a single consciousness connects disparate experiences. In this week's poem, the meditation-as-anecdote is not exactly a structure of oppositions, but one in which oppositions potently register: water and fire, real and fictional lives, the stars above and the tiny tobacco-star of a cigarette.

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