Louise Gluck, Our New Nobel Laureate
She raises the question what is left when the physical scaffolding of a life begins to rot away. Did even the poems of her youth foreshadow this?
"A taking of inventory" might be one answer. And the inventory might not be of anything that is particularly important, but rather of memories and of data points, all of equal weight or weightlessness. Clive James reduced his own such inventory to a poem written in anticipation of death. It included the fact that the oil in Hitler's panzers froze solid before Moscow.
In perhaps the most poetic of all movies, Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire," Bruno Ganz' guardian angel comes upon a middle-aged man who has crashed his motorbike in a collision with a Mercedes. He is bleeding out on the sidewalk. He recites in German an inventory of places -- "Tristan da Cunha ... the Mississippi Delta ..." As if it would be impossible for him to expire until the inventory was complete.