Adrienne Rich was one of a handful of writers, mostly women, many gay, who made a massive difference to me in my late teens/early twenties. Because they were there and strong and loud and open and honest and because their words were beautiful and their politics were true and they weren’t afraid to shout their politics in beautiful words – they weren’t afraid of poetry.
I’m grateful there were voices like hers when I needed to hear them, and I’m grateful that – unlike so many of my woman writer heroes – Rich lived a long life.
Thanks to Jenny Whyte and Caren Wilton for reminding me of this :
by Adrienne Rich
You’re wondering if I’m lonely:
OK then, yes, I’m lonely
as a plane rides lonely and level
on its radio beam, aiming
across the Rockies
for the blue-strung aisles
of an airfield on the ocean.
You want to ask, am I lonely?
Well, of course, lonely
as a woman driving across country
day after day, leaving behind
mile after mile
little towns she might have stopped
and lived and died in, lonely
If I’m lonely
it must be the loneliness
of waking first, of breathing
dawns’ first cold breath on the city
of being the one awake
in a house wrapped in sleep
If I’m lonely
it’s with the rowboat ice-fast on the shore
in the last red light of the year
that knows what it is, that knows it’s neither
ice nor mud nor winter light
but wood, with a gift for burning