Adrienne Rich

Like This Together

for AHC   
Wind rocks the car.
We sit parked by the river,
silence between our teeth.
Birds scatter across islands
of broken ice.  Another time
I’d have said: “Canada geese,”
knowing you love them.
A year, ten years from now
I’ll remember this—
this sitting like drugged birds
in a glass case—
not why, only that we
were here like this together.

They’re tearing down, tearing up
this city, block by block.
Rooms cut in half
hang like flayed carcasses,
their old roses in rags,
famous streets have forgotten
where they were going.  Only
a fact could be so dreamlike.
They’re tearing down the houses
we met and lived in,
soon our two bodies will be all
left standing from that era.

We have, as they say,
certain things in common.
I mean:  a view
from a bathroom window
over slate to stiff pigeons
huddled every morning; the way
water tastes from our tap,
which you marvel at, letting
it splash into the glass.
Because of you I notice
the taste of water,
a luxury I might
otherwise have missed.

Our words misunderstand us.
Sometimes at night
you are my mother:
old detailed griefs
twitch at my dreams, and I
crawl against you, fighting
for shelter, making you
my cave.  Sometimes
you’re the wave of birth
that drowns me in my first
nightmare.  I suck the air.
Miscarried knowledge twists us
like hot sheets thrown askew.

Dead winter doesn’t die,
it wears away, a piece of carrion
picked clean at last,
rained away or burnt dry.
Our desiring does this,
make no mistake, I’m speaking
of fact:  through mere indifference
we could prevent it.
Only our fierce attention
gets hyacinths out of those
hard cerebral lumps,
unwraps the wet buds down
the whole length of a stem.