Adrienne Rich

The University Reopens
As the Floods Recede

Should blue air in its purity let you disdain 
the stink of artificial pine 

the gaunt architecture
of cheap political solutions 

if there are philosophies to argue
the moment when you would 

or wouldn’t spring to shield 
a friend’s body or jump 

into scummed waters after
a stranger caught submerging 

or walk off to your parked
car your sandwich your possible orange
or theories rage of dance 
about this if in the event    any 

can be sure who did
or did not act on principle or impulse 

and what’s most virtuous 

can we not be nodding smiling 
taking down notes like this 

and of all places 
in a place like this 

I’ll work with you on this bad matter.   I can
but won’t give you the time of day 

if you think it’s hypothetical