Adrienne Rich


the phantom of the man-who-would-understand,the lost

the phantom of the man-who-would-understand,
the lost brother, the twin —

for him did we leave our mothers,
deny our sisters, over and over?

did we invent him, conjure him
over the charring log,

nights, late, in the snowbound cabin
did we dream or scry his face

in the liquid embers,
the man-who-would-dare-to-know-us?

It was never the rapist:
it was the brother, lost,

the comrade/twin whose palm
would bear a lifeline like our own:

decisive, arrowy,
forked-lightning of insatiate desire

It was never the crude pestle, the blind
ramrod we were after:

merely a fellow-creature
with natural resources equal to our own.


There is no ‘the truth’,’a truth’ – truth is not one

There is no ‘the truth’,’a truth’ – truth is not one thing, or even a system. It is an increasing complexity. the pattern of the carpet is a surface. When we look closely, or when we become weavers, we learn of the tiny multiple threads unseen in the overall pattern, the knots on the underside of the carpet


Wherever in this city, screens flickerwith

Wherever in this city, screens flickerwith pornography, with science-fiction vampires,victimized hirelings bending to the lash,we also have to walk . . . if simply as we walkthrough the rainsoaked garbage, the tabloid crueltiesof our own neighborhoods.We need to grasp our lives inseperablefrom those rancid dreams, that blurt of metal, those disgraces,and the red begonia perilously flashingfrom a tenement sill six stories high,or the long-legged young girls playing ballin the junior highschool playground.No one has imagined us. We want to live like trees,sycamores blazing through the sulfuric air,dappled with scars, still exuberantly budding,our animal passion rooted in the city.


Power Living in the earth-deposits of our

Power Living in the earth-deposits of our historyToday a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earthone bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-oldcure for fever or melancholy a tonicfor living on this earth in the winters of this climate.Today I was reading about Marie Curie:she must have known she suffered from radiation sicknessher body bombarded for years by the elementshe had purifiedIt seems she denied to the endthe source of the cataracts on her eyesthe cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-endstill she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencilShe died a famous woman denyingher woundsdenyingher wounds came from the same source as her power.


PLANETARIUMThinking of Caroline Herschel

PLANETARIUMThinking of Caroline Herschel (1750–1848)astronomer, sister of William; and others.A woman in the shape of a monstera monster in the shape of a womanthe skies are full of thema woman ‘in the snowamong the Clocks and instrumentsor measuring the ground with poles’in her 98 years to discover8 cometsshe whom the moon ruledlike uslevitating into the night skyriding the polished lensesGalaxies of women, theredoing penance for impetuousnessribs chilledin those spaces of the mindAn eye, ‘virile, precise and absolutely certain’ from the mad webs of Uranusborg encountering the NOVAevery impulse of light explodingfrom the coreas life flies out of us Tycho whispering at last ‘Let me not seem to have lived in vain’What we see, we seeand seeing is changingthe light that shrivels a mountainand leaves a man aliveHeartbeat of the pulsarheart sweating through my bodyThe radio impulsepouring in from Taurus I am bombarded yet I standI have been standing all my life in thedirect path of a battery of signalsthe most accurately transmitted mostuntranslatable language in the universeI am a galactic cloud so deep so invo-luted that a light wave could take 15years to travel through me And hastaken I am an instrument in the shapeof a woman trying to translate pulsationsinto images for the relief of the bodyand the reconstruction of the mind.

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