Adrienne Rich





Wallpaper

1
A room papered with clippings
newsprint in bulging patches
none of them mentions our names
gone from that history then   O red

kite snarled in a cloud 
small plane melted in a fog:  no matter:
I worked to keep it current
and meaningful:  a job of living I thought

history as wallpaper
urgently selected clipped and pasted
but the room itself   nowhere

gone the address   the house
golden-oak banisters zigzagging
upward, stained glass on the landings
streaked porcelain in the bathrooms

loose floorboards quitting in haste we pried 
up to secrete the rash imagination
of a time to come

What we said then, our breath   remains
otherwhere:  in me   in you

2
Sonata for Unaccompanied Minor
Fugitive Variations
discs we played over and over

on the one-armed phonograph
Childish we were in our adoration
of the dead composer

who’d ignored the weather signs
trying to cross the Andes
stupidly   I’d say now

And you’d agree   seasoned
as we are   working stretched
weeks   eating food bought

with ordinary grudging wages
keeping up with rent, utilities

a job of living as I said

3
Clocks are set back   quick dark
snow filters past my lashes
this is the common ground

white-crusted sidewalks   windshield wipers
licking, creaking
to and fro   to and fro

If the word gets out if the word
escapes if the word
flies it dies
it has its way of coming back

The handwritings on the walls
are vast and coded

the music blizzards past