Because Life Is Short, and You Too Are Thirsty

I worked late, late, late tonight and when I stepped out around 8:30 to grab dinner, I could see that our corner of the building was the only spot ablaze with light, shining way up there on the eighth floor. It reminded me of the opening lines of one of my favorite poems by Adrienne Rich.

An Atlas of the Difficult World

XIII (Dedications)

I know you are reading this poem

late, before leaving your office

of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window

in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet

long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem

standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean

on a gray day of early spring, faint flakes driven

across the plain’s enormous spaces around you.

I know you are reading this poem

in a room where too much has happened for you to bear

where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed

and the open valise speaks of flight

but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem

as the underground train loses momentum and before running
 up the stairs

toward a new kind of love

your life has never allowed.

I know you are reading this poem by the light

of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide

while you wait for the newscast from the intifada.

I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room

of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.

I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light

in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,

count themselves out, at too early an age. I know

you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick

lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on

because even the alphabet is precious.

I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove

warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your
 hand

because life is short and you too are thirsty.

I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language

guessing at some words while others keep you reading

and I want to know which words they are.

I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
 between bitterness and hope

turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.

I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else 
left to read

there where you have landed, stripped as you are.

– Adrienne Rich

San Francisco, CA, 2010

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Things to read and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s