Adrienne Rich

Long After Stevens

A locomotive pushing through snow in the mountains
more modern than the will

to be modern   The mountain’s profile
in undefiled snow disdains

definitions of poetry   It was always
indefinite, task and destruction

the laser eye of the poet   her blind eye
her moment-stricken eye   her unblinking eye

She had to get down from the blocked train
lick snow from bare cupped hands

taste what had soared into that air
-- local cinders, steam of the fast machine

clear her palate with a breath   distinguish
through tumbling whiteness   figures

frozen   figures advancing
weapons at the ready
for the new password

She had to feel her tongue
freeze and burn at once

instrument searching, probing
toward a foreign tongue