Adrienne Rich
 

Adrienne Rich

Four: History

Should I simplify my life for you?
Don't ask me how I began to love men.
Don't ask me how I began to love women.
Remember the forties songs, the slowdance numbers
the small sex-filled gas-rationed Chevrolet?
Remember walking in the snow and who was gay?
Cigarette smoke of the movies, silver-and-gray
profiles, dreaming the dreams of he-and-she
breathing the dissolution of the wisping silver plume?
Dreaming that dream we leaned applying lipstick
by the gravestone's mirror when we found ourselves
playing in the cemetery.ppp In Current Events she said
the war in Europe is over, the Allies
and she wore no lipstick have won the war
and we raced screaming out of Sixth Period.

Dreaming that dream
we had to maze our ways through a wood
where lips were knives breasts razors and I hid
in the cage of my mind scribbling
this map stops where it all begins
into a red-and-black notebook.
Remember after the war when peace came down
as plenty for some and they said we were saved
in an eternal present and we knew the world could end?
-remember after the war when peace rained down
on the winds from Hiroshima Nagasaki Utah Nevada?
and the socialist queer Christian teacher jumps from the
ppppppp hotel window?
and L.G. saying I want to sleep with you but not for sex
and the red-and-black enameled coffee-pot dripped slow through
ppppppppp the dark grounds
-appetite terror power tenderness
the long kiss in the stairwell the switch thrown
on two Jewish Communists married to each other
the definitive crunch of glass at the end of the wedding?
(When shall we learn, what should be clear as day,
We cannot choose what we are free to love?)

1993-1994


From DARK FIELDS OF THE REPUBLIC (Norton, 1995)

 

Poems by Adrienne Rich

Translations

Four: History

There Is No One Story and One Story Only

  

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