a publication & a passing

by sophie

I have a poem in the now out-in-the-world Spring issue of Ploughshares, edited by Nick Flynn. It’s a true true pleasure to be included, and alongside so many people I like and admire. Go order the issue – it will be well worth it.

also:
We will miss you, Adrienne Rich (1929-2012).

from The Dream of a Common Language

1.

My body opens over San Francisco like the day –

light raining down each pore crying the change of light

I am not with her I have been waking off and on

all night to that pain not simply absence but

the presence of the past destructive

to living here and now Yet if I could instruct

myself, if we could learn to learn from pain

even as it grasps us if the mind, the mind that lives

in this body could refuse to let itself be crushed

in that grasp it would loosen Pain would have to stand

off from me and listen its dark breath still on me

but the mind could begin to speak to pain

and pain would have to answer:

We are older now

we have met before these are my hands before your eyes

my figure blotting out all that is not mine

I am the pain of division creator of divisions

it is I who blot your lover from you

and not the time-zones or the miles

It is not separation calls me forth but I

who am separation And remember

I have no existence apart from you

2.

I believe I am choosing something now

not to suffer uselessly yet still to feel

Does the infant memorize the body of the mother

and create her in absence? or simply cry

primordial loneliness? does the bed of the stream

once diverted mourning remember the wetness?

But we, we live so much in these

configurations of the past I choose

to separate her from my past we have not shared

I choose not to suffer uselessly

to detect primordial pain as it stalks toward me

flashing its bleak torch in my eyes blotting out

her particular being the details of her love

I will not be divided from her or from myself

by myths of separation

while her mind and body in Manhattan are more with me

than the smell of eucalyptus coolly burning on these hills

3.

The world tells me I am its creature

I am raked by eyes brushed by hands

I want to crawl into her for refuge lay my head

in the space between her breast and shoulder

abnegating power for love

as women have done or hiding

from power in her love like a man

I refuse these givens the splitting

between love and action I am choosing

not to suffer uselessly and not to use her

I choose to love this time for once

with all my intelligence.

( via Natalie Jabbar)

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