Denying Our Wounds

Rest in peace, Adrienne Rich.

You moved me and changed my world for the better with your words.

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Power

Living in the earth-deposits of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.

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Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power.

Adrienne Rich, 1929 – 2012

Adrienne Rich, you wrote beautiful things that spoke to me as a woman, as a human being, and I hope you died knowing, never denying that your wounds came from the same source as your power.

[Author’s note: I’d originally started a draft of this post in order to talk about the poem itself, to discuss our wounds as a source of power, but now I want to post it as it is as a tribute to Ms. Rich. Maybe I will discuss the poem at another time. For now, I just want the poem to speak for itself now that she’s gone.]