I wake up in your bed. I know I have been dreaming.
Much earlier, the alarm broke us from each other,
you’ve been at your desk for hours. I know what I dreamed:
our friend the poet comes into my room
where I’ve been writing for days,
drafts, carbons, poems are scattered everywhere,
and I want to show her one poem
which is the poem of my life. But I hesitate,
and wake. You’ve kissed my hair
to wake me. I dreamed you were a poem,
I say, a poem I wanted to show someone…
and I laugh and fall dreaming again
of the desire to show you to everyone I love,
to move openly together
in the pull of gravity, which is not simple,
which carries the feathered grass a long way down the upbreathing air.
I was nineteen when I first read Adrienne Rich’s work and in particular, this poem from Twenty-One Love Poems. There are few pieces of writing that I believe have shaped me. This is certainly one of them.
While living in DC, I had the pleasure of seeing Adrienne Rich at an event at Georgetown University. She sat at a desk on stage and read some of her favorite pieces, most of which I had never heard before, but there was something about her writing that always seemed so familiar. After the event, she signed books and took pictures with guests. I was too nervous to do either and if I remember correctly, I had mild food poisoning from eating at Georgetown’s cafeteria. The fact that I was able to sit through that event without passing out still amazes me.
I read this poem again and it pulls me into a memory so sharp that I remember exactly how the auditorium was configured for the event. I remember how quietly she read each piece, but with a passion that showed these words still meant everything.
Rest in peace.