Adrienne Rich

Plaza Street and Flatbush

On a notepad on a table
tagged for the Goodwill
the word   Brooklyn

on the frayed luggage label
the matchbox cover
the name   Brooklyn

in steel-cut script on a watermarked form
on a postcard postmarked 1961
the word   Brooklyn

on the medal for elocution
on the ashtray with the bridge
the inscription   Brooklyn

in the beige notebook
of the dead student's pride
in her new language

on the union card   the love letter
the mortgaged insurance policy
somewhere it would say,   Brooklyn

on the shear of the gull
on the ramp that sweeps
to the great cable-work

on the map of the five boroughs
the death certificate
the last phone bill

in the painter's sighting
of light unseen
til now, in Brooklyn

If you had been required
to make inventory
of everything in the apartment

if you had had to list
the acquisitions of a modest life
punctuated with fevers of shopping

-- a kind of excitement for her
but also a bandage
over bewilderment

and for him, the provider
the bandage of providing
for everyone

if you had had to cram the bags
with unworn clothing unused linens
bought by a woman

who but just remembered 
being handed through the window
of a train in Russia

if you had had to haul
the bags to the freight elevator
if you had been forced to sign

a declaration of all
possessions kept or given away
in all the old apartments

in one building say
at Plaza and Flatbush
or on Eastern Parkway?
Art doesn't keep accounts
though artists
do as they must

to stay alive
and tend their work
art is a register of light

The painter taking her moment
-- a rift in the clouds “
and pulling it out

-- mucous srand, hairy rootlet
sticky clew to the labyrinth
pulling and pulling

forever or as long
as this grain of this universe
will be tested

the painter seizing the light
of creation
giving it back to its creatures

headed under the earth

spoken = Karen Marek