I’m back! We are starting off July with some more steamy work from Adrienne Rich, who I featured back in January. You remember her? Well, here’s a brief refresher.
Adrienne Cecile Rich May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012) was an American poet, essayist, and radical feminist. She was called “one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century”, and was credited with bringing “the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse.”
Her first collection of poetry, A Change of World, was selected by renowned poet W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. Auden went on to write the introduction to the published volume. She famously declined the National Medal of Arts, protesting the vote by House Speaker Newt Gingrich to end funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
This poem is called Orion. Instead of the excerpt, I wanted to the whole thing. I’m greedy that way. Steamy…. As usual, please enjoy.
“I never loved another person the way I loved myself”. – Mae West
Far back when I went zig-zagging
through tamarack pastures
you were my genius, you
my cast-iron Viking, my helmed
lion-heart king in prison.
Years later now you’re young
my fierce half-brother, staring
down from that simplified west
your breast open, your belt dragged down
by an oldfashioned thing, a sword
the last bravado you won’t give over
though it weighs you sown as you stride
and the stars in it are dim
and maybe have stopped burning.
But you burn, and I know it;
as I throw back my head to take you in
an old transfusion happens again:
divine astronomy is nothing to it.
Indoors I bruise and blunder,
break faith, leave ill enough
alone, a dead child born in the dark.
Night cracks up over the chimney,
pieces of time, frozen geodes
come showering down in the grate.
A man reaches behind my eyes
and finds them empty
a woman’s head turns away
from my head in the mirror
children are dying my death
and eating crumbs of my life.
Pity is not your forte.
Calmly you ache up there
pinned aloft in your crow’s nest,
my speechless pirate!
You take it all for granted
and when I look you back
it’s with a starlike eye
shooting its cold and egotistical spear
where it can so least damage.
Breathe deep! No hurt, no pardon
out here in the cold with you
you with your back to the wall.