Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972
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In her seventh volume of poetry, Adrienne Rich searches to reclaim―to discover―what has been forgotten, lost, or unexplored.
"I came to explore the wreck. / The words are purposes. / The words are maps. / I came to see the damage that was done / and the treasures that prevail." These provocative poems move with the power of Rich's distinctive voice.
grains ripe clusters picked by hand Love: the refrigerator with open door the ripe steaks bleeding their hearts out in plastic film the whipped butter, the apricots the sour leftovers A crate is waiting in the orchard for you to fill it your hands are raw with scraping the sharp bark, the thorns of this succulent tree Pick, pick, pick this harvest is a failure the juice runs down your cheekbones like sweat or tears 2. She is the one you call sister you blaze like lightning
earth. Wormeaten moon. A pale cross-hatching of silver lies like a wire screen on the black water. All these phenomena are temporary. I would have loved to live in a world of women and men gaily in collusion with green leaves, stalks, building mineral cities, transparent domes, little huts of woven grass each with its own pattern— a conspiracy to coexist with the Crab Nebula, the exploding universe, the Mind— 9. “The only real love I have ever felt was for children and other women.
pure water or stare into clear air is to feel a spasm of pain. For weeks now a rage has possessed my body, driving now out upon men and women now inward upon myself Walking Amsterdam Avenue I find myself in tears without knowing which thought forced water to my eyes To speak to another human becomes a risk I think of Norman Morrison the Buddhists of Saigon the black teacher last week who put himself to death to waken guilt in hearts too numb to get the message in a world
this sin of wedlock: you, your wife, your children leaning across the unfilled plates passing the salt down a cloth ironed by a woman with aching legs Now they go out to play in the coarse, rough November air that smells of soft-coal smoke, the river, burnt sweet-potato pie. Sensuality dessicates in words— risks of the portage, risks of the glacier never taken Protection is the genius of your house the pressure of the steam iron flattens the linen cloth again chestnuts puréed with
mica-vein even you, fellow-creature, sister, sitting across from me, dark with love, working like me to pick apart working with me to remake this trailing knitted thing, this cloth of darkness, this woman’s garment, trying to save the skein. 2. The fact of being separate enters your livelihood like a piece of furniture —a chest of seventeenth-century wood from somewhere in the North. It has a huge lock shaped like a woman’s head but the key has not been found. In the compartments are