Two poems by 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


This is not the Room

of polished tables lit with medalled
torsos bent toward microphones
where ears lean hands scribble
"working the dark side"

--glazed eye meeting frozen eye--

This is not the room where tears down carven
cheeks track rivulets in the scars
left by the gouging tool
where wood itself is weeping

where the ancient painted eye speaks to the living eye

This is the room
where truth scrubs around the pedestal of the toilet
flings her rag into the bucket
straightens up    spits at the mirror

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