from Twenty-One Love Poems (Adrienne Rich)
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.
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.