1. Like This Together

    Wind rocks the car.
    We sit parked by the river,
    silence between our teeth.
    Birds scatter across islands
    of broken ice. Another time
    I’d have said, “Canada geese,”
    knowing you love them.
    A year, ten years from now
    I’ll remember this—
    this sitting like drugged birds
    in a glass case—
    not why, only that we
    were here like this together.

    They’re tearing down, tearing up
    this city block, block by block
    Rooms cut in half
    hang like flayed carcasses,
    their old roses in rags,
    famous streets have forgotten
    where they were going. Only
    a fact could be so dreamlike.
    They’re tearing down the houses
    we met and lived in,
    soon our two bodies will be all
    left standing from that era.

    We have, as they say,
    certain things in common.
    I mean: a view
    from a bathroom window
    over slate to stiff pigeons
    huddled every morning; the way
    water tastes from our tap,
    which you marvel at, letting
    it splash into the glass.
    Because of you I notice
    the taste of water,
    a luxury I might
    otherwise have missed.

    Our words misunderstand us.
    Sometimes at night
    you are my mother:
    old detailed griefs
    twitch at my dreams, and I
    crawl against you, fighting
    for shelter, making you
    my cave. Sometimes
    you’re the wave of birth
    that drowns me in my first
    nightmare. I suck the air.
    Miscarried knowledge twists us
    like hot sheets askew.

    Dead winter doesn’t die,
    it wears away, a piece of carrion
    picked clean at last,
    rained away or burnt dry.
    Our desiring does this,
    make no mistake, I’m speaking
    of fact: through mere indifference
    we could prevent it.
    Only our fierce attention
    gets hyacinths out of those
    hard cerebral lumps,
    unwraps the wet buds down
    the whole length of a stem.

    By Adrianne Rich.

    Rest in peace, you glorious soul.

    From The New York Times's obituary:
    Ms. Rich was far too seasoned a campaigner to think that verse alone could change entrenched social institutions. “Poetry is not a healing lotion, an emotional massage, a kind of linguistic aromatherapy,” she said in an acceptance speech to the National Book Foundation in 2006, on receiving its medal for distinguished contribution to American letters. “Neither is it a blueprint, nor an instruction manual, nor a billboard.”

    But at the same time, as she made resoundingly clear in interviews, in public lectures and in her work, Ms. Rich saw poetry as a keen-edged beacon by which women’s lives — and women’s consciousness — could be illuminated.