Adrienne Rich

In Plain Sight

My neighbor moving
in a doorframe   moment’s
reach of her hand   then

withdrawn   As from some old
                          guilty pleasure

Smile etched like a scar
which must be borne
in a photograph taken against one’s will

Her son up on a ladder stringing
along the gutter
electric icicles in a temperate zone

If the suffering hidden in plain sight
is of her past her future
or the thin-ice present where
we’re balancing here
                              or how she sees it
I can’t presume

. . . Ice-thin.  Cold and precarious
the land I live in and have argued not to leave
Cold on the verge of crease
                                       crack without notice

ice-green disjuncture   treasoning us
to flounder cursing each other
Cold and grotesque the sex
the grimaces the grab

A privilege   you say
to live here   A luxury
Everyone still wants to come here!
You want a Christmas card, a greeting
to tide us over
with pictures of the children

then you demand a valentine
an easterlily   anything for the grab
a mothersday menu   wedding invitation

It’s not as in a museum that I
and mark in every Face I meet

              under crazed surfaces
traces of feeling   locked in shadow

Not as in a museum of history
do I pace here   nor as one who in a show
of bland paintings shrugs and walks on   I gaze
through faces   not as an X-ray

as paparazzo shooting
the compromised celebrity

nor archaeologist filming
the looted site
nor as the lover tearing out of its frame
the snapshot to be held to a flame

but as if a mirror
forced to reflect a room
                                     the figures

standing   the figures crouching