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Translations by Adrienne Rich

Fretting over a meeting this coming Saturday to discuss my poetry collection. Until now I have no clear theme for my works. I am beginning to embrace the fact that my poems are of the domestic and the sensuous woman, as this is what I write about most of the time, even without my meaning to. It has only been pointed out to me recently by friends, writers and readers both, and now sometimes I can’t help but feel a veil of self-consciousness when I show someone what I’ve written. What has possessed me to write about such things? I don’t even have an answer to that for myself.

Going through sheafs of papers now; poems written in the past year, and several years along my life. I have no idea if I can pull this off. I’m a writer; this is a fact. It’s in the marrow of my bones. But I’ve yet to grasp on the poet’s form, its contours. Does it fit me? Is it who I really am, only, I’ve never known it all this time? I have never really thought about bringing some serious direction to my poetry, have never known the demanding rigours that come with this kind of life. But it feels right to me, somehow. Like coming home. I wonder if it’s what I’ve been looking for, that missing piece, all these years.

Would it be too funny to end this musing with a poem? Ah, but I never take myself so seriously anyway:

Adrienne Rich

You show me the poems of some woman
my age, or younger
translated from your language

Certain words occur: enemy, oven, sorrow
enough to let me know
she’s a woman of my time


with Love, our subject:
we’ve trained it like ivy to our walls
baked it like bread in our ovens
worn it like lead on our ankles
watched it through binoculars as if
it were a helicopter
bringing food to our famine
or the satellite
of a hostile power

I begin to see that woman
doing things: stirring rice
ironing a skirt
typing a manuscript till dawn

trying to make a call
from a phonebook

the phone rings unanswered
in a man’s bedroom
she hears him telling someone else
never mind. she’ll get tired
hears him telling her story to her sister

who becomes her enemy
and will in her own time
light her own way to sorrow

ignorant of the fact this way of grief
is shared, unnecessary
and political

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