Thursday, December 1, 2016

from 'Twenty-One Love Poems'

by Adrienne Rich
from 'Twenty-One Love Poems'

This aparment full of books could crack open
to the thick jaws, the bulging eyes
of monsters, easily: Once open the books, you have to face
the underside of everything you've loved --
the rack and pincers held in readiness, the gag
even the best voices have had to mumble through,
the silence burying unwanted children --
women, deviants, witnesses -- in desert sand.
Kenneth tells me he's been arranging his books
so he can look at Blake and Kafka while he types;
yes; and we still have to reckon with Swift
loathing the woman's flesh while praising her mind,
Goethe's dread of the Mothers, Claudel vilifying Gide,
and the ghosts - their hands clasped for centuries-
of artists dying in childbirth, wise-women charred at the stake,
centuries of books unwritten piled behind these shelves;
and we still have to stare into the absence
of men who would not, women who could not, speak
to our life - this still unexcavated hole
called civilization, this act of translation, this half-world.

from 'Twenty-One Love Poems'

by Adrienne Rich
from 'Twenty-One Love Poems'

Your dog, tranquil and innocent, dozes through
our cries, our murmured dawn conspiracies
our telephone calls. She knows - what can she know?
If in my human arrogance I claim to read
her eyes, I find there only my own animal thoughts:
that creatures must find each other for bodily comfort,
that voices of the psyche drive through the flesh
further than the dense brain could have foretold,
that the planetary nights are growing cold for those
on the same journey, who want to touch
one creature-traveler clear to the end;
that without tenderness, we are in hell.

curator's note: happy third anniversary, james.