Adrienne Rich is the master of writing wonderful poems about poetry. While a lot of writers attempt that feat (much like love poems), only a few are able to craft work that’s not utterly insufferable. Rich is certainly one of those.
In the old, scratched, cheap wood of the typing standthere is a landscape, veined, which only a child can seeor the child’s older self, a poet,a woman dreaming when she should be typingthe last report of the day. If this were a map,she thinks, a map laid down to memorizebecause she might be walking it, it showsridge upon ridge fading into hazed deserthere and there a sign of aquifersand one possible watering-hole. If this were a mapit would be the map of the last age of her life,not a map of choices but a map of variationson the one great choice. It would be the map by whichshe could see the end of touristic choices,of distances blued and purpled by romance,by which she would recognize that poetryisn’t revolution but a way of knowingwhy it must come. If this cheap, mass-producedwooden stand from the Brooklyn Union Gas Co.,mass-produced yet durable, being here now,is what it is yet a dream-mapso obdurate, so plain,she thinks, the material and the dream can joinand that is the poem and that is the late report.
Curious about all the other National Poetry Month poems? Check out the very first post to get them all!