Poem XIX

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.

– Adrienne Rich “Poem XIX”

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