Adrienne Rich

Two Arts

I’ve redone you by daylight.
Squatted before your gauntness
chipping away.    Slivers of rock
piling up like petals.
All night I’d worked to illuminate the skull.
By dawn you were pure electric.    You pulsed like a star.
You awoke in the last darkness
before the light poured in.
I’ve redone you by daylight.

Now I can submit you to the arts administrator
and the council of patrons
who could never take your measure.
This time they will love you,
standing on the glass table, fluent and robed at last,
and all your origins countered.
I wrap you in pure white sheets to mail you,
I brush you off my apron,
the charged filings crunch like cinders on the floor.

Raise it up there and it will
loom, the gaunt original thing
gristle and membrane of your life
mortared with shells of trilobites
it will hold between the cracks
of lightning, in the deadpan face of before and after
it will stick on up there as you left it
pieced together by starlight
it will hang by the flying buttresses you gave it
— hulk of mist, rafter of air, suspension bridge of mica
helm of sweat and dew —
but you have to raise it up there, you
have a brutal thing to do.

spoken = Karen Marek