Poesia kaiera
Adrienne Rich
itzulpena: Maialen Berasategi
Poesia kaiera
Adrienne Rich
itzulpena: Maialen Berasategi
2017, poesia
64 orrialde
978-84-92468-95-9
Adrienne Rich
1929-2012
 
 

 

Hogeita bat maitasun-poema

 

                         I

 

Hiri honetako pantailen ñirñirrean pornografia

edo zientzia-fikziozko banpiroak ageri diren aldiro,

edo zartailuz makurrarazitako soldatapeko biktimizatuak,

orduan ere oinez segitu behar guk… besterik gabe oinez

zabor euritan blaituan barna, geure auzoetako

tabloide-ankerkerietan barna.

Ulertu behar dugu ezin bereizi dugula gure bizitza

amets kerratu horietatik, metal-borborkada horretatik, lotsa horietatik,

etxe baten seigarren solairuko leihoan

arriskutsu dir-dir ari den begonia gorritik,

edo institutuko patioan baloiarekin jolasean dabiltzan

neska hankaluzeengandik.

Inork ez gaitu irudikatu. Bizi nahi dugu zuhaitzak bezala,

aire sulfurikoan distira dagiten sikomoroak bezala,

orbainez josirik baina joritsu ernatuz,

gure animalia-pasioa hirian erroturik.

 

 

                         II

 

Zure ohean esnatu naiz. Ametsetan ibili naiz, badakit.

Askoz goizago zela, alarmak bereizi gaitu kolpean,

orduak eman dituzu mahaian. Badakit zein zen ametsa:

gure lagun poeta sartu da gelara

han neraman idazten egunak eta egunak

zirriborroak, ikatz-paperak, poemak hor nonahi

eta erakutsi nahi nion poema bat

nire bizitzaren poema. Baina duda egin

eta esnatu naiz. Musu eman didazu ilean

esna nendin. Amets egin dut poema bat zinela,

esan dizut, mundu guztiari erakutsi nahi nion poema bat

eta, barrez, lokartu eta berriz amets egin dut

maite ditudan guztiei zu erakusteko irrikarekin,

zabal-zabal mugi gaitezen biok batera

grabitatearen indarrean, zeina ez baita sinplea,

zeinak urrun baitarama belar lumakara goranzko arnasan behera.

 

 

                         III

 

Gazte ez garenez, asteka osatu behar denbora

elkarren faltan emaniko urteengatik. Baina denboraren bihurdura

bitxi horrek baizik ez diost ez garela gazte.

Hogei urterekin sekula ibili ote nintzen ba goizez kalean

gorputz-adarrak orain baino pozez txoratuago?

atera al nintzen leihora, hiriari goitik begira

etorkizunari adi-adi

zure deiaren zain kirioak dantzan nagoenean bezala?

Eta zu, zu nigana zatoz tempo berean.

Betierekoak dira zure begiak, uda-hasierako

belar begi-urdinaren txinparta berdea,

udaberriak garbitutako berro basa urdin-berdea.

Hogei urterekin, bai: betiko biziko ginela uste genuen.

Berrogeita bostekin, mugak zein ditugun ere jakin nahi dut.

Ukitzen zaitut jakinik ez ginela bihar jaio,

eta nolabait, elkarri lagunduko diogula bizitzen,

eta nonbait, elkarri lagundu beharko diogula hiltzen.

 

 

                         IV

 

Etxera noa zugandik udaberriko goiz-argitan

argitsu daude ohiko hormak, Pez Dorado,

saltoki merkeak, zapata-denda… Jakien poltsak

besotan, korrika heldu naiz igogailura

eta gizon zahar zurrun neurritasun zaindukoak

ia itxi dit atea pare-parean. —Itxaron, Jainkoarren!

esan diot oihuz. —Histerikoa!, bota dit hark.

Sukaldera sartu, fardelak utzi,

kafea egin, leihoa ireki, Nina Simone jarri

Here comes the sun kantari… Posta zabaldu,

kafe goxo-goxoa edanez, musika goxo-goxoa adituz,

gorputzean oraindik zure arina eta astuna. Gutun artetik

erori da fotokopia bat espetxean torturatutako

27 urteko gizon bahitu baten idazkiarena:

Halako erakustaldi sadikoa egin dute nire genitalekin

ezen minez esna bainaukate etengabe…

Egin itzazu egin ahalak bizirik irauteko.

Badakizu zer? Gizonek gerra maite dute, nik uste…

Eta nire amorru sendaezina, nire zauri orbainezinak

areago zabaldu dira malkoz; negarrez ari naiz desesperatuta

eta beren menpe dute oraindik mundua, eta zu ez zaude nire besoetan.

 

 

                         V

 

Liburuz betetako etxe hau erditik ireki liteke

munstroen matraila gogor, begi irtenekin,

erraz: behin liburuak zabalik, aurre egin behar

maite izan duzun guztiaren beste aldeari;

apala eta pintzak erabat prest, ahotsik onenek ere

beren marmarra hedatzeko zeharkatu beharreko mozala,

isiltasuna nahi gabeko haurrak lurperatzen…

andreak, desbideratuak, testiguak… desertuko hondarretan.

Kennethek esan dit liburuak antolatu dituela

idazten ari den artean Blake eta Kafka ikusteko moduan;

bai; eta guk hala ere borrokatu behar Swift,

andreen azala higuinduz batera miresten zuena haien adimena,

Goethek amei zien ikara, Claudel erdeinuz Gideri,

eta erditzean hildako artisten, sutan erretako andre jakintsuen

mamuak —eskuak estuturik mendeetan—,

idatzi gabeko liburuz betetako mendeak apal hauen atzean;

eta erreparatu behar diogu oraindik

gure biziari hitz egin ez zioten gizonen, hitz egin ezin izan zioten andreen

absentziari; zibilizazio deitutako zulo

hondeatu gabe honi, itzulpen honi, erdi mundu honi.

 

 

                         VI

 

Zure esku txikiak, neureen berdin-berdinak;

hatz lodia soilik handiago, luzeago. Esku horietan

utz nezake lasai mundua, edo halako hainbat eskutan,

tresna elektrikoak erabiltzeko edo bolantea gidatzeko

edo giza aurpegi bat ukitzeko… Halako eskuak gai dira

haur jaiogabe bat zuzen jartzeko erditze-hodian

edo erreskate-ontzi miatzaile bat gidatzeko

izebergetan barna, edo kratera handi hautsi baten

orratz gisako puska zorrotzak berriz elkartzeko,

kratera bat alboetan dituena

emakume estasiatu batzuk

sibilaren gordelekura edo haitzulo eleusiarrera bidean.

Esku horiek eragin lezakete biolentzia bat saihetsezina

hain neurriz, hain heldurik

biolentziaren heinari eta mugei ezen

guztiz zaharkitua geratuko baitzen biolentzia harrezkero.

 

 

                         VII

 

Ze munstro klasek bihurtuko luke bere bizitza hitz?

Ze espiazio klase da hau?

Eta, hala ere, halako hitzak idatziz, bizitzen ere ari naiz.

Hurbil ote dago hau otsokumeen uluzko seinaleetatik,

izaki basatien kantata modulatutik?

edo zu hitzez sortu nahian ari ote naiz urrun nagoenean,

ez ote naiz ari zu erabiltzen baino, ibai bat edo gerra bat bezala?

Eta nola erabili ote ditut ibaiak, nola erabili ote ditut gerrak

idatziz ihes egiteko gauzarik okerrenari:

ez besteren krimenei, ezta geure heriotzari ere,

baizik behar adinako pasioz aske izan nahi ezari,

hartara zumar gorrinduek, ibai eriek, masakreek irudi dezaten

geure buruaren profanazioaren enblema huts?

 

 

                         VIII

 

Neure burua ikusten dut duela urte batzuk Sunionen

oin infektatu baten minez, Filoktetes

emakume-eitez, herrenka bide luzean,

lurmutur batean etzanda, itsaso ilunaren gainean,

behera begira, arroka gorrietara, non kizkur zuri

hoskabe batek esan zidan hautsia zela uhin bat,

uraren erauntsia irudikatuz han goian,

jakinik borondatezko suizidioa ez nuela eginkizun,

baina une oro zainduz, neurtuz zauri hura.

Akabo, baina. Hila da emakume hura

bere pairamena maite zuena. Haren ondorengoa naiz ni.

Maite dut hark eman zidan ehun orbaindua,

baina aurrera jo nahi dut hemendik zurekin

minbide bat egiteko tentazioari eutsita.

 

 

                         IX

 

Gauza itoak bizi diren putzu bat da gaur zure isila

gorantz tantaka nahi dut ikusi, eguzkira eramana.

Ez dut nire aurpegia ikusten hor, baizik beste batzuk,

baita zeurea ere, beste adin batekoa zinela.

Biok behar dugu hor galdutakoa, zernahi dela ere:

urre zaharrezko erloju bat, sukarraren grafiko bat urez lausotua,

giltza bat… Sakoneko lohiak eta hartxintxarrek ere

merezi dute beren aitortza-distira. Beldurra diot isil honi,

bizi lokabe honi. Zain nago

haizeak leun zabal dezan ur hostotsu hau

behingoagatik, eta erakuts diezadan zer egin

zuretzat, maiz egin baitituzu zuk direnak

eta ez direnak besterentzat, baita niretzat ere.

 

 

                         X

 

Zure txakurra, otzan eta inozente, erdi lo

gure oihuen, egunsentiko konspirazio-xuxurlen,

telefono-deien artean. Badaki… zer jakingo du, ba?

Halako giza hantuste batez pentsatzen badut leitu ditzakedala

haren begiak, nire animalia-gogamenak baino ez ditut aurkitzen han:

kreaturek elkar behar dutela aurkitu, gorputzen lasaigarri;

psikeko ahotsak azalean barna doazela

garun zurrunak iragarri ahal baino urrunago;

gau planetarioak hoztuz doazela

bidaide direnentzat, zeinek nahi baitute ukitu

kreatura bidaiari bat garbi azkeneraino;

infernuan gaudela samurtasunik ezean.

 

 

                         XI

 

Gailur oro da krater bat. Hori da sumendien legea,

horrek egiten ditu emakumezko, eternalki eta ikusgarriro.

Goragunerik ez sakonunerik gabe, suzko muinik gabe,

nahiz eta laba gogortuan birrintzen zaizkigun espartzuzko zolak.

Zurekin joan nahi dut mendi sakratu orotara

barnerantz errez, sibila tripoderantz makurtzen den bezala,

hartu nahi dizut eskua bidean gora goazela,

eta sentitu zure arteriak bero nire eskuan,

bistatik sekula galdu gabe bitxi-antzeko loretxo hori,

arrotza, izengabea guk izenik jarri arte,

motel eraldatuz doan arrokari itsatsia;

kanpotik geure buruarengana gakartzan detaile hori

hemen zen lehendik, bazekien bagentozela, eta ikusten du gugandik harago.

 

 

                         XII

 

Lo, planetak bezala, biraka bira

errotazioan beren gauerdiko larrean:

ukitu bakar batekin badakigu

ez gaudela bakarrik unibertsoan, ezta lo gaudenean ere:

bi mundutako amets-mamuak

beren hiri fantasman ibilian, elkarrengana zuzenduz ia.

Hemendik zenbait argi- edo ilun-urtetara esan dituzun

hitzen marmarrak esnatu nau

neure ahotsa balitz bezala.

Baina ezberdina dugu ahotsa, baita lotan ere,

eta gorputzak, hain berdintsu baina hain bestelako,

eta odolean zehar oihartzun dugun iraganak

hizkuntza ezberdinak daramatza, esanahi ezberdinak…

nahiz eta gure mundu honen edozein kronikatan

idatz lezaketen esanahi berriz

bi maitale ginela sexu batekoak

bi emakume belaunaldi batekoak.

 

 

                         XIII

 

Hausten dira arauak termometro bat bezala,

eta isurtzen merkurioa grafiko-sistemetan,

kanpoan gaude, hizkuntzarik gabeko, legerik gabeko

herrialde batean, erroiari eta txepetxari esetsika

argitu duenetik esploratu gabeko arroiletan barrena

zernahi ere egiten dugula, asmakuntza hutsa da

eman zizkiguten mapak hainbat urte

zaharkituta zeuden… autoz goaz basamortuan

aski ur izango ote dugun zalantzan

haluzinazioak herri soil bihurtzen dira

garbi dator musika irratitik:

ez Rosenkavalier, ez Götterdämmerung

baizik andre bat kantu zaharrak kantatzen

hitz berriz, eta baxu isil bat, flauta bat atzean

legez kanpoko andre batzuek hatz-puntekin joak.

 

 

                         XIV

 

Pilotuaz zenuen ikusmoldeak berretsi zidan

zutaz nuen ikusmoldea: esan zenuen, Hor

dabil olatuei begira-begira, nahita

eskotilla irekira makurtzen ginelarik

plastikozko poltsetan botaka

hiru ordu, Saint-Pierretik Mikelunera bidean.

Sekula ez zintudan sentitu hurbilago.

Bikote haiek kamarote itxietan eztei-bidaian zirela

elkarren magal-besoetan kuzkurtuta,

eskua jarri nizun izterrean

bion lasaigarri, nirean jarri zenuen zurea,

eta halaxe geratu ginen, batera sufritzen

gure gorputzean, sufrimendu guztia

fisikoa balitz bezala, elkar ukitu genuen deus jakin ez

eta gutxiago inporta zitzaien arrotzen aurrean

denak hantxe beren min pribatua botaka

sufrimendu guztia fisikoa balitz bezala.

 

(Igeri dagoen poema, zenbakirik gabea)

 

Zernahi ere gertatzen zaigula, zure gorputzak

pertsegituko du nirea; samur, ezti

zure maitasun-jarduna, basoko iratze-hosto

erdi-kiribilduaren antzera

eguzkitan blaitu berria. Zure izter jori bidaiariak

non sartu dudan aurpegia oso-osorik behin eta berriz;

nire mihiak han aurkitu duen lekuaren inozentzia eta jakituria;

zure bular-muturren dantza bixi nekaezina nire ahoan;

zure ukia nigan, tinko, babesgarri, nire

bila, zure mihi sendoa eta hatz lirainak

hainbat urtez zure zain izan naizen lekuan

nire haitzulo umel arrosan. Zernahi gerta, hauxe da.

 

 

                         XV

 

Etzan banintzen zurekin hondartza zuri huts hartan

Golkoko itsaslasterrak goxatutako ura garbi berde

baina ezin izan baginen geratu hondartza hartan etzanda

haizeak hondar fina zekarkigulako

gure kontra balego bezala,

saiatu baginen hura jasaten baina lortu ez,

joan baginen beste norabait

elkarren besoetan lo egitera

eta estuak baziren oheak, presoen oheen antzera,

eta nekearen nekez ez bagenuen elkarrekin lo egin,

eta horixe aurkitu genuenez horixe egin bagenuen…

guk sartu al genuen hanka?

Zirkunstantziei helduta, ezin nintzen sentitu

erantzule. Hautatu ez zuela dioen hori

baizik ez da izaten azkenean galtzaile.

 

 

                         XVI

 

Zugandik hiriaz bestaldean, zurekin nago

abuztuko gau bat nola

ilargian bezala, badia goxoan, itsasoak bustita, ikusi zintudan lotan,

han ondoan apain-mahaiaren zur hits gastatua

eta han gure eskuilen, liburuen, potoen nahaspila ilargi-argitan,

edo gatz-lainozko zuhaizti bat, zure ondoan etzanda

ilunabar gorriari begira etxolako atearen saretatik harago,

Mozarten sol minorra kasetean

itsasoaren musikarekin lokartuz.

Manhattango uharte hau aski zabala da

gu biontzat, eta estua:

arnasa aditzen dizut gaur gauean, badakit

gora begira zaudela lo, ilun-antxak

marrazten dizula aho jori samur hori

eta hor daudela lo mina eta barrea, biak batera.

 

 

                         XVII

 

Inork ez du ez paturik ez madarikaziorik inor maitatzeko.

Gertatzen dira istripuak, ez gara heroiak,

gertatzen dira gure bizitzan, auto-ezbeharrak bezala,

aldatzen gaituzten liburuak bezala, azkenerako

maitatu ere egiten ditugun auzo horiek bezala.

Gutxi du istorioak Tristan eta Isoldarenetik,

emakumeek jakin behar lukete gutxienez bereizten

maitasuna eta heriotza. Ez pozoi-koparik,

ez penitentziarik. Ideia lauso bat soilik: grabagailuak

jaso behar zuela guri buruzko zertxoren bat; grabagailuak

ez zuela musika jo behar soilik, baizik guri entzun,

eta gure ondorengoei irakatsi:

hauxe ginen, halaxe saiatu ginen maitatzen,

eta indar hauek erabili dituzte gure kontra,

eta indar hauek borrokatu ditugu gure baitan,

gure baitan eta gure kontra, gure kontra eta gure baitan.

 

 

                         XVIII

 

Euria West Side Highway-n

argi gorria Riverside-n:

zenbat eta gehiago bizi, sinetsiago nago

mirari bat direla bi pertsona elkarrekin.

Zure bizitzaren istorioa kontatzen ari zara

behingoagatik, dardara batek hautsi dizu hitzen azala.

Gure bizitzaren istorioa gure bizitza bihurtzen da.

Ihesi zoaz orain, poeta segurki victoriarren batek

gatz-itsaso arroztailea izendatu zuen hartan barna.

Hitz horiexek etortzen dira gogora.

Arroztasuna sentitzen dut, bai. Nola sentitu dudan

egunsentia argiari bultzaka. Zer edo zer: argi-arrail bat ote…?

Penaren eta amorruaren artean gertu, irekitzen da espazio bat

eta hor Adrienne naiz bakarrik. Gero eta hotzago.

 

 

                         XIX

 

Gero eta hotzago ote nabil, hasi banaiz berriz

ukitzen neure burua, apartatuta atxikimendua?

Aurpegi biluziak atzera begiratzeari utzi eta motel

orainari begiratzen dionean,

neguaren, hiriaren, amorruaren, pobreziaren begia eta heriorena

eta ezpainak zabaldu, eta esaten dute: Bizitzen segitu nahi al dut?

Hotz ari al naiz baldin eta amets batean

edo poema honetan esaten badizut Ez dago miraririk?

(Hasieratik esan nizun nahi nuela eguneroko bizimodua,

aski uharte zitzaidala Manhattango uharte hau.)

Esan ahalko banizu…

bi emakume elkarrekin, hori lan bat dela

zibilizazioan ezerk erraztu ez duena,

bi pertsona elkarrekin, hori lan bat dela

heroikoa bere arruntean,

zelai bateko igaro motel etena

non arretarik zorrotzena bihurtzen den errutina…

Hori hautatu dutenei, begiratu aurpegira.

 

 

                         XX

 

Beti izatear ginen hizketaldi

hura buruan dabilkit bueltaka,

gauez Hudson dar-dar doa New Jersey-ren argitan

ura kutsaturik baina islatuz tarteka

baita ilargia ere

eta begiztatu dut inoiz maitatu nuen

emakume bat, sekretutan itotzen, izu-zauri bat zintzurrean

ilea bezain itogarri. Eta andre harexekin

saiatu nintzen mintzatzen; haren buru adierazkor zauritua doa hor,

minetik urrunduz, gero eta hondorago

entzun ezin nauen lekura,

eta aurki jakingo dut neure arimarekin ari nintzela.

 

 

                         XXI

 

Harrizko tresnaz izurtutako borobil izugarriaren

ateburu ilunak, harri urdin arrotzak

uda beteko gauaren argia pizten ostertzaren

atzetik… “Argi-arrail bat” esan nuenean,

hauxe esan nahi nuen. Eta hau ez da Stonehenge

ez beste ezein toki, baizik gogamena

atzeraka, norabait, non bakarrik egotea,

inorekin, hauta litekeen bakardaderik gabe,

ez erraz, ezta borobil hori, itzal astun horiek,

argi eder hori zaintzeko minik gabe ere.

Hautatu dut izatea argi horretako figura,

ilunetan erdi gorderik, zerbait

espazioan barna doana, harri-kolore bat

ilargia agurtzen duena, baina harri bat baino gehiago:

emakume bat. Hautatu dut hemen ibiltzea. Eta borobil hau marraztea.

 

Twenty one love poems

I

Whenever in this city, screens flicker / with pornography, with science-fiction vampires, / victimized hirelings bending to the lash, / we also have to walk ... if simply as we walk / through the rainsoaked garbage, the tabloid cruelties / of our own neighborhoods. / We need to grasp our lives inseparable / from those rancid dreams, that blurt of metal, those disgraces, / and the red begonia perilously flashing / from a tenement sill six stories high, / or the long-legged young girls playing ball / in the junior highschool playground. / No one has imagined us. We want to live like trees, / sycamores blazing through the sulfuric air, / dappled with scars, still exuberantly budding, / our animal passion rooted in the city.

II

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.

III

Since we’re not young, weeks have to do time / for years of missing each other. Yet only this odd warp / in time tells me we’re not young. / Did I ever walk the morning streets at twenty, / my limbs streaming with a purer joy? / did I lean from my window over the city / listening for the future / as I listen with nerves tuned for your ring? / And you, you move towards me with the same tempo. / Your eyes are everlasting, the green spark / of the blue-eyed grass of early summer / the green-blue wild cress washed by the spring. / At twenty, yes: we thought we’d live forever. / At forty-five, I want to know even our limits. / I touch you knowing we weren’t born tomorrow, / and somehow, each of us will help the other live, / and somewhere, each of us must help the other die.

IV

I come home from you through the early light of Spring / flashing off ordinary walls, the Pez Dorado, / the Discount Wares, the shoe-store... . I’m lugging my sack / of groceries, I dash for the elevator / where a man, taut, elderly, carefully composed / lets the door almost close on me. —For god’s sake hold it! / I croak at him. —Hysterical,— he breathes my way. / I let myself into the kitchen, unload my bundles, / make coffee, open the window, put on Nina Simone / singing Here comes the sun... . I open the mail, / drinking delicious coffee, delicious music, / my body still both light and heavy with you. The mail / lets fall a Xerox of something written by a man / aged 27, a hostage, tortured in prison: / My genitals have been the object of such a sadistic display / they keep me constantly awake with the pain ... / Do whatever you can to survive. / You know, I think men love wars ... / And my incurable anger, my unmendable wounds / break open further with tears, I am crying helplessly, / and they still control the world, and you are not in my arms.

V

This apartment full of books could crack open / to the thick jaws, the bulging eyes / of monsters, easily: Once open the books, you have to face / the underside of everything you’ve loved— / the rack and pincers held in readiness, the gag / even the best voices have had to mumble through, / the silence burying unwanted children— / women, deviants, witness—in desert sand. / Kenneth tells me he’s been arranging his books / so he can look at Blake and Kafka while he types; / yes; and we still have to reckon with Swift / loathing the woman’s flesh while praising her mind, / Goethe’s dread of the mothers, Claudel vilifying Gide, / and the ghosts—their hands clasped for centuries— / of artists dying in childbirth, wise-women charred at the stake, / centuries of books unwritten piled behind these shelves; / and we still have to stare into absence / of men who would not, women who could not, speak / to our life—this still unexcavated hole / called civilization, this act of translation, this half-world.

VI

Your small hands, precisely equal to my own— / only the thumb is larger, longer—in these hands / I could trust the world, or in many hands like these, / handling power-tools or steering-wheel / or touching a human face... . Such hands could turn / the unborn child rightways in the birth canal / or pilot the exploratory rescue-ship / through icebergs, or piece together / the fine, needle-like sherds of a great krater-cup / bearing on its sides / figures of ecstatic women striding / to the sibyl’s den or the Eleusinian cave— / such hands might carry out an unavoidable violence / with such restraint, with such a grasp / of the range and limits of violence / that violence ever after would be obsolete.

VII

What kind of beast would turn its life into words? / What atonement is this all about? / —and yet, writing words like these, I'm also living. / Is all this close to the wolverines’ howled signals, / that modulated cantata of the wild? / or, when away from you I try to create you in words, / am I simply using you, like a river or a war? / And how have I used rivers, how have I used wars / to escape writing of the worst thing of all— / not the crimes of others, not even our own death, / but the failure to want our own freedom passionately enough / so that blighted elms, sick rivers, massacres would seem / mere emblems of that desecration of ourselves?

VIII

I can see myself years back at Sunion, / hurting with an infected foot, Philoctetes / in woman’s form, limping the long path, / lying on a headland over the dark sea, / looking down the red rocks to where a soundless curl / of white told me a wave had struck, / imagining the pull of that water from that height, / knowing deliberate suicide wasn't my métier, / yet all the time nursing, measuring that wound. / Well, that’s finished. The woman who cherished / her suffering is dead. I am her descendant. / I love the scar-tissue she handed on to me, / but I want to go on from here with you / fighting the temptation to make a career of pain.

IX

Your silence today is a pond where drowned things live / I want to see raised dripping and brought into the sun. / It’s not my own face I see there, but other faces, / even your face at another age. / Whatever’s lost there is needed by both of us— / a watch of old gold, a water-blurred fever chart, / a key... . Even the silt and pebbles of the bottom / deserve their glint of recognition. I fear this silence, / this inarticulate life. I'm waiting / for a wind that will gently open this sheeted water / for once, and show me what I can do / for you, who have often made the unnameable / nameable for others, even for me.

X

Your dog, tranquil and innocent, dozes through / our cries, our murmured dawn conspiracies / our telephone calls. She knows—what can she know? / If in my human arrogance I claim to read / her eyes, I find there only my own animal thoughts: / that creatures must find each other for bodily comfort, / that voices of the psyche drive through the flesh / further than the dense brain could have foretold, / that the planetary nights are growing cold for those / on the same journey, who want to touch / one creature-traveler clear to the end; / that without tenderness, we are in hell.

XI

Every peak is a crater. This is the law of volcanoes, / making them eternally and visibly female. / No height without depth, without a burning core, / though our straw soles shred on the hardened lava. / I want to travel with you to every sacred mountain / smoking within like the sibyl stooped over her tripod, / I want to reach for your hand as we scale the path, / to feel your arteries glowing in my clasp, / never failing to note the small, jewel-like flower / unfamiliar to us, nameless till we rename her, / that clings to the slowly altering rock— / that detail outside ourselves that brings us to ourselves, / was here before us, knew we would come, and sees beyond us.

XII

Sleeping, turning in turn like planets / rotating in their midnight meadow: / a touch is enough to let us know / we’re not alone in the universe, even in sleep: / the dream-ghosts of two worlds / walking their ghost-towns, almost address each other. / I’ve wakened to your muttered words / spoken light- or dark-years away, / as if my own voice had spoken. / But we have different voices, even in sleep, / and our bodies, so alike, are yet so different / and the past echoing through our bloodstreams / is freighted with different language, different meanings— / though in any chronicle of the world we share / it could be written with new meaning / we were two lovers of one gender, / we were two women of one generation.

XIII

The rules break like a thermometer, / quicksilver spills across the charted systems, / we’re out in a country that has no language / no laws, we’re chasing the raven and the wren / through gorges unexplored since dawn / whatever we do together is pure invention / the maps they gave us were out of date / by years ... we’re driving through the desert / wondering if the water will hold out / the hallucinations turn to simple villages / the music on the radio comes clear— / neither Rosenkavalier nor Götterdämmerung / but a woman’s voice singing old songs / with new words, with a quiet bass, a flute / plucked and fingered by women outside the law.

XIV

It was your vision of the pilot / confirmed my vision of you: you said, He keeps / on steering headlong into the waves, on purpose / while we crouched in the open hatchway / vomiting into plastic bags / for three hours between St. Pierre and Miquelon. / I never felt closer to you. / In the close cabin where the honeymoon couples / huddled in each other’s laps and arms / I put my hand on your thigh / to comfort both of us, your hand came over mine, / we stayed that way, suffering together / in our bodies, as if all suffering / were physical, we touched so in the presence / of strangers who knew nothing and cared less / vomiting their private pain / as if all suffering were physical. // (The Floating Poem, Unnumbered) // Whatever happens with us, your body / will haunt mine—tender, delicate / your lovemaking, like the half-curled frond / of the fiddlehead fern in forests / just washed by sun. Your traveled, generous thighs / between which my whole face has come and come / the innocence and wisdom of the place my tongue has found there— / the live, insatiate dance of your nipples in my mouth— / your touch on me, firm, protective, searching / me out, your strong tongue and slender fingers / reaching where I had been waiting years for you / in my rose-wet cave—whatever happens, this is.

XV

If I lay on that beach with you / white, empty, pure green water warmed by the Gulf Stream / and lying on that beach we could not stay / because the wind drove fine sand against us / as if it were against us / if we tried to withstand it and we failed— / if we drove to another place / to sleep in each other’s arms / and the beds were narrow like prisoners’ cots / and we were tired and did not sleep together / and this was what we found, so this is what we did— / was the failure ours? / If I cling to circumstances I could feel / not responsible. Only she who says / she did not choose, is the loser in the end.

XVI

Across a city from you, I'm with you / just as an August night / moony, inlet-warm, seabathed, I watched you sleep, / the scrubbed, sheenless wood of the dressing-table / cluttered with our brushes, books, vials in the moonlight— / or a salt-mist orchard, lying at your side / watching red sunset through the screendoor of the cabin, / G minor Mozart on the tape-recorder, / falling asleep to the music of the sea. / This island of Manhattan is wide enough / for both of us, and narrow: / I can hear your breath tonight, I know how your face / lies upturned, the halflight tracing / your generous, delicate mouth / where grief and laughter sleep together.

XVII

No one’s fated or doomed to love anyone. / The accidents happen, we’re not heroines, / they happen in our lives like car crashes, / books that change us, neighborhoods / we move into and come to love. / Tristan und Isolde is scarcely the story, / women at least should know the difference / between love and death. No poison cup, / no penance. Merely a notion that the tape-recorder / should have caught some ghost of us: that tape-recorder / not merely played but should have listened to us, / and could instruct those after us: / this we were, this is how we tried to love, / and these are the forces they had ranged against us, / and these are the forces we had ranged within us / within us and against us, against us and within us.

XVIII

Rain on the West Side Highway, / red light at Riverside: / the more I live the more I think / two people together is a miracle. / You're telling the story of your life / for once, a tremor breaks the surface of your words. / The story of our lives becomes our lives. / Now you’re in fugue across what some I'm sure / Victorian poet called the salt estranging sea. / Those are the words that come to mind. / I feel estrangement, yes. As I’ve felt dawn / pushing toward daybreak. Something: a cleft of light—? / Close between grief and anger, a space opens / where I am Adrienne alone. And growing colder.

XIX

Can it be growing colder when I begin / to touch myself again, adhesions pull away? / When slowly the naked face turns from staring backward / and looks into the present, / the eye of winter, city, anger, poverty, and death / and the lips part and say: I mean to go on living? / Am I speaking coldly when I tell you in a dream / or in this poem, There are no miracles? / (I told you from the first I wanted daily life, / this island of Manhattan was island enough for me.) / If I could let you know— / two women together is a work / nothing in civilization has made simple, / two people together is a work / heroic in its ordinariness, / the slow-picked, halting traverse of a pitch / where the fiercest attention becomes routine / —look at the faces of those who have chosen it.

XX

That conversation we were always on the edge / of having, runs on in my head, / at night the Hudson trembles in New Jersey light / polluted water yet reflecting even / sometimes the moon / and I discern a woman / I loved, drowning in secrets, fear wound round her throat / and choking her like hair. And this is she / with whom I tried to speak, whose hurt, expressive head / turning aside from pain, is dragging down deeper / where it cannot hear me, / and soon I shall know I was talking to my own soul.

XXI

The dark lintels, the blue and foreign stones / of the great round rippled by stone implements / the midsummer night light rising from beneath / the horizon—when I said “a cleft of light” / I meant this. And this is not Stonehenge / simply nor any place but the mind / casting back to where her solitude, / shared, could be chosen without loneliness, / not easily nor without pains to stake out / the circle, the heavy shadows, the great light. / I choose to be the figure in that light, / half-blotted by darkness, something moving / across that space, the color of stone / greeting the moon, yet more than stone: / a woman. I choose to walk here. And to draw this circle.