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Two Poems


Fox

I needed fox    Badly I needed
a vixen for the long time none had come near me
I needed recognition from a
triangulated face     burnt-yellow eyes
fronting the long body the fierce and sacrificial tail
I needed history of fox     briars of legend it was said she had run through
I was in want of fox

And the truth of briars she had to have run through
I craved to feel on her pelt     if my hands could even slide
past or her body slide between them     sharp truth distressing surfaces of fur
lacerated skin calling legend to account
a vixen's courage in vixen terms

For a human animal to call for help
on another animal
is the most riven the most revolted cry on earth
come a long way down
Go back far enough it means tearing and torn     endless and sudden
back far enough it blurts
into the birth-yell of the yet-to-be human child
pushed out of a female     the yet-to-be woman

1998


This Evening Let's

not talk

about my country     How
I'm from an optimistic culture

that speaks louder than my passport
Don't double-agent-contra my

invincible innocence     I've
got my own

suspicions     Let's
order retsina

cracked olives and bread
I've got questions of my own but

let's give a little
let's let a little be

If friendship is not a tragedy
if it's a mercy

we can be merciful
if it's just escape

we're neither of us running
why otherwise be here

Too many reasons not
to waste a rainy evening

in a backroom of bouzouki
and kitchen Greek

I've got questions of my own but
let's let it be a little

There's a beat in my head
song of my country

called Happiness, U.S.A.
Drowns out bouzouki

drowns out world and fusion
with its Get—get—get

into your happiness before
happiness pulls away

hangs a left along the piney shore
weaves a hand at you—"one I adore"—

Don't be proud, run hard for that
enchantment boat

tear up the shore if you must but
get into your happiness because

before
and otherwise
it's going to pull away


So tell me later
what I know already

and what I don't get
yet     save for another day

Tell me this time
what you are going through

travelling the Metropolitan
Express

break out of that style
give me your smile
awhile

2001


Adrienne Rich

Later Poems: Selected and New, 1971-2012
W. W. Norton


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