Adrienne Rich

“The Night Has a Thousand Eyes”


The taxi meter clicking up
loose change who can afford to pay

basalt blurring spectral headlights
darkblue stabbed with platinum

raincoats glassy with evening wet
the city gathering

itself for darkness
into a bitter-chocolate vein

the east side with its trinkets
the west side with its memories


Wherever you had to connect:
question of passport, glances, bag

dumped late on the emptied carousel
departure zones

where all could become mislaid, disinvented
undocumented, unverified

all but the footprint of your soul
in the cool neutral air

till the jumbo jet groaned and gathered
itself over Long Island

gathered you into your earth-craving
belly-self, that desire


Gaze through the sliced-glass window
nothing is foreign here

nothing you haven’t thought or taught
nothing your thumbnail doesn’t know

your old poets and painters knew it
knocking back their wine

you’re just in a cab driven wild
on the FDR by a Russian Jew

who can’t afford to care if he lives or dies
you rode with him long ago


Between two silvered glass urns an expensive
textile is shouldered

it’s after dark now, floodlight
pours into the wired boutique

there are live roses in the urns
there are security codes

in the wall   there are children, dead, near death
whose fingers worked this

desirable thing

—nothing you haven’t seen on your palm
nothing your thumbnail doesn’t know


After one stroke she looks at the river
remembers her name—Muriel

writes it in her breath
on the big windowpane

never again perhaps
to walk in the city freely

but here is her landscape this old
industrial building converted

for artists
her river  the Lordly Hudson

Paul named it   which has no peer
in Europe or the East

her mind on that water   widening


Among five men walks a woman
tall as the tallest man, taller than several

a mixed creature
from country poverty   good schooling

and from that position seeing
further than many

beauty, fame, notwithstanding   standing
for something else

—Where do you come from?—
—Como tú, like you, from nothing—

Julia de Burgos, of herself, fallen
in Puerto Rican Harlem


Sometime tonight you’ll fall down
on a bed far from your heart’s desire

in the city as it is
for you now:   her face or his

private across an aisle
throttling uptown

bent over clasped hands or
staring off then suddenly glaring:

Back off! Don’t ask!  you will meet those eyes
(none of them meeting)


The wrapped candies from Cleveland
The acclaim of East St. Louis

deadweight trophies borne
through interboro fissures of the mind

in search of Charlie Parker
—Where are you sleeping tonight? with whom?

in crippled Roebling’s harbor room
where he watched his bridge transpire?—

Hart   Miles   Muriel   Julia   Paul
you will meet the eyes you were searching for

and the day will break

as we say, it breaks
as we don’t say, of the night

as we don’t say of the night