Thursday, December 1, 2016

from 'Twenty-One Love Poems'

V
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.

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