Adrienne Rich

For a Friend in Travail

Waking from violence:  the surgeon’s probe left in the foot
paralyzing the body from the waist down.
Dark before dawn:  wrapped in a shawl, to walk the house
the Drinking-Gourd slung in the northwest,
half-slice of moon to the south
through dark panes.  A time to speak to you.

What are you going through?  she said, is the great question.
Philosopher of oppression, theorist
of the victories of force.

We write from the marrow of our bones.  What she did not
ask, or tell:  how victims save their own lives.

That crawl along the ledge, then the traveling span of fibre
from one side to the other, I’ve dreamed that too.
Waking, not sure we made it.  Relief, appallment, of waking.
Consciousness.  O, no.  To sleep again.
O to sleep without dreaming.

How day breaks, when it breaks, how clear and light the moon
melting into moon-colored air
moist and sweet, here on the western edge.
Love for the world, and we are part of it.
How the poppies break from their sealed envelopes
she did not tell.

What are you going through, there on the other edge?

spoken = Karen Marek