Hearty Vegetarian Split Pea Soup and Brown Bread
Spicy Pumpkin Soup

(Dedications)

I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a grey day of early spring, faint flakes drive
across the plains' enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
as the underground train loses momentum and before running
                     up the stairs
toward a new kind of love
your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light
of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
while you wait for the newscast from the infatida.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light
in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,
count themselves out, at too early an age. I know
you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
because eve the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace bside the stove
warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your
                     hand
because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language
guessing at some words while others keep you reading
and I want to know hich words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, tor
                     between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else
left to read
there here you have landed, stripped as you are.

1990-1991

- Adrienne Rich, in An Atlas of the Difficult World, Poems 1988-1991

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