Sunday, April 17, 2011

"V" by Adrienne Rich (from "Twenty-One Love Poems")


This apartment 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 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 The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich (W.W. Norton, 1978)


Lisa said...

love her. Diving into the Wreck's my fave.

Luke said...

She's amazing--the sequence where this poem appears is out of control good.

Kirsten said...

A fellow Seattle-based MFA alum posted your WSJ piece--nice post, and yay for Seattle writers!


Luke said...

Nice to "meet" you Kirsten. Yay for Seattle writers, and for Seattle springtime.