Wednesday, March 28, 2012

RIP Adrienne Rich, 1929-2012

from “Eastern War Time”
An Atlas of the Difficult World (1991)

Memory says: Want to do right? Don’t count on me.
I’m a canal in Europe where bodies are floating
I’m a mass grave   I’m the life that returns
I’m a table set with room for the Stranger
I’m a field with corners left for the landless
I’m accused of child-death   of drinking blood
I’m a man-child praising God he’s a man
I’m a woman bargaining for a chicken
I’m a woman who sells for a boat ticket
I’m a family dispersed between night and fog
I’m an immigrant tailor who says A coat
Is not a piece of cloth only   I sway
In the learning of the master-mystics
I have dreamed of Zion   I’ve dreamed of world revolution
I have dreamed my children could live at last like others
I have walked the children of others through ranks of hatred
I’m a corpse dredged from a canal in Berlin
a river in Mississippi   I’m a woman standing
with other women dressed in black
on the streets of Hiafa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem
there is spit on my sleeve there are phonecalls in the night
I am a woman standing in line for gasmasks
I stand on a road in Ramallah   with naked face   listening
I am standing here in your poem   unsatisfied
lifting my smoky mirror


MJ said...

Wow - how sad that it takes the death of the poet before I realize I need to read their work.

Laura B. Hayden said...

Thank you for posting this.