Poem: Adrienne Rich, ‘XVII’


No one’s fated or doomed to love anyone.
The accidents happen, we’re not heroines,
they happen in our lives like car crashes,
books that change us, neighbourhoods
we move into and come to love.
Tristan and Isolde is scarcely the story,
women at least should know the difference
between love and death. No poison cup,
no penance. Merely a notion that the tape-recorder
should have caught some ghost of us: that tape-recorder
not merely played but should have listened to us,
and could have instructed those after us:
this we were, this is how we tried to love,
and these were the forces they had ranged against us,
and these are the forces we had ranged within us,
within us and against us, against us and within us.

From Twenty-One Love Poems

Adrienne Rich (1929 – ) is a North American lesbian feminist poet who has published numerous works.  I come back to her a lot, especially when I’m feeling tired.

(if a lesbian gives you an Adrienne Rich poem she may well be trying to tell you something).

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