by Adrienne Rich

Page 4

And this is "Poetry III":

Even if we knew the children were all asleep
and healthy, the ledgers balanced, the water
running clear in the pipes, and all the prisoners
free, even if every word we wrote by then
were honest, the sheer heft of our living
behind it, not these sometimes lax, indolent
lines, these litanies, even if we were told
not just by friends, that this was honest
work, even if each of us didn't wear a brass
locket with a picture of a strangled woman,
a girl-child sewn through the crotch. Even
if someone had told us young, this is not
a key, nor a peacock feather, nor a kite,
nor a telephone. This is the kitchen sink,
the grinding stone, would we give ourselves
more calmly over? Feel less criminal joy?
When the thing comes as it does come,
clarifying grammar and the fixed, immutable

Well, in a sense, this is another poem about poetry. It's called "Blue Rock" and its dedicated to Miriam Diaz Diocaretz:

Your chunk of lapis lazuli shoots
its stain blue into the wine-glass
on the table. The full moon moving
up the sky is plain as the dead rose
and the alive buds on the one stem.
No this isn't Persian poetry I'm quoting.
All this is here in North America where
I sit trying to kindle fire from what's
already on fire. The light of a blue rock
from Chile swimming in the apricot liquid
called Eye of the Swan this is chunk of
your world, a piece of its heart split
from the rest, does it suffer? You needn't
tell me. Sometimes I hear it singing
by the waters of Babylon in a strange land
sometimes its just lies heavy in my hand,
with the heaviness of silent, seismic knowledge
a blue rock in a foreign land, an exile
excised but never separated from the
gashed heart, its mountains, winter rains
language native sorrow.
At the end of the twentieth century
cardiac graphs of torture reply to poetry,
line by line. In North America, the strokes
of the stylus continue, the figures of terror
are reinvented all night after I turn the lamp
off, blotting wine glass rock and roses, leaving
pages like this scrawled with mistakes and love
falling asleep but the stylus does not sleep.
Cruelly, the drum revolves, cruelty writes
its name.
Once when I wrote poems they did not change
left overnight on the page. They stayed as
they were and daylight broke on the lines
as on the clotheslines in the yard, heavy
with clothes forgotten or left out for a
better sun next day. But now I know what
happens when I sleep and when I wake the
poem has changed, the facts have dilated it
or canceled it and in every morning's light
your rock is there.

  previous page
next page
table of contents
search the archives

  Titanic Operas Main Page
Copyright 1999 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
Maintained by Jarom McDonald  <>
Last updated on January 17, 2000

Maintained by Rebecca Mooney  <>
Last updated on March 10, 2008
Dickinson Electronic Archives