Switching it up again! Poets. Lady poets. I have a fondness for them that stretches back to the early days of my English major. I didn’t love poetry until I discovered lesbian poets, whose words seemed to resonate with my young lesbo self more profoundly than that flowery stuff put out by the male Romantics ever had. Blech. So yeah, for me it’s death and gayness (Baudelaire and Plath, Rich, Lorde, and Ryan). Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, and Kay Ryan are like, my gay trinity of poetry. Adrienne Rich came to my poetry class once about four years ago and gave a reading of her work. The woman was nearing 80, and her entire body was wracked by rheumatoid arthritis. I could tell because her knuckles are large and gnarled; she walks unsteadily. All I could think was how painful it must be for her to exercise her god-given talent. Just putting pen to paper must be torturous. In retrospect I realized she was WAY smart and probably just typed her poems, or dictated them to some gorgeous undergrad lesbian who was just as besotted with her as I was. D’oh.
And since this is already running long, I’ll leave you with my favorite Rich poem. If you like it, run, don’t walk to your local bookstore and pick up her amazing collection, The Fact of a Doorframe.
The glass has been falling all the afternoon,
And knowing better than the instrument
What winds are walking overhead, what zone
Of grey unrest is moving across the land,
I leave the book upon a pillowed chair
And walk from window to closed window, watching
Boughs strain against the sky
And think again, as often when the air
Moves inward toward a silent core of waiting,
How with a single purpose time has traveled
By secret currents of the undiscerned
Into this polar realm. Weather abroad
And weather in the heart alike come on
Regardless of prediction.
Between foreseeing and averting change
Lies all the mastery of elements
Which clocks and weatherglasses cannot alter.
Time in the hand is not control of time,
Nor shattered fragments of an instrument
A proof against the wind; the wind will rise,
We can only close the shutters.
I draw the curtains as the sky goes black
And set a match to candles sheathed in glass
Against the keyhole draught, the insistent whine
Of weather through the unsealed aperture.
This is our sole defense against the season;
These are the things we have learned to do
Who live in troubled regions.