What kind of beast would turn its life into words?
What atonement is this all about?
- and yet, writing words like these, I’m also living.
Is all this close to the wolverine’s howled signals,
that modulated cantana of the wild?
or, when away from you I try to create you in words,
am I simply using you, like a river or a war?
And how have I used rivers, how have I used wars
to escape writing of the worst thing of all -
not the crimes of others, not even our own death,
but the failure to want our own freedom passionately enough
so that blighted elms, sick rivers, massacres would seem
mere emblems of that desecration of ourselves?
— Adrienne Rich, also from the 21 Love Poems
Whatever’s lost there is needed by both of us -
a watch of old gold, a water-blurred fever chart,
a key…Even the silt and pebbles of the bottom
deserve their glint of recognition. I fear this silence,
this inarticulate life. I’m waiting
for a wind that will gently open this sheeted water
for once and show me what I can do
for you, who have often made the unnameable
nameable for others, even for me.
—From IX of Adrienne Rich’s 21 Love Poems