Adrienne Rich

Even Then Maybe

Not spent.    those bloodshot friendships     those 
soul-marriages sealed and torn
those smiles of pain
I told her a mouthful 
I shut my mouth against him 
Throat thick with tears
how words sound when you swallow 
—and under the roofof the mouth     long stroke
reaching from the tongue’s root 

No, I was not living with her at the time
At the time I was not living
with him, at the time we were living together 
I was living with neither of them 
—was dwelling you could say
But as for living at that time
we were all living together with many others 
for whom living was precisely the question

Haven’t seen evenings like that since 
vesuvian emerald to brass dissolving 
—a sentence you’d waited for
taken back half-spoken— 
Luxury even then maybe 
evenings like those