IX from Twenty-One Love Poems
by Adrienne Rich
Your silence today is a pond where drowned things live
I want to see raised dripping and brought into the sun.
It’s not my own face I see there, but other faces,
even your face at another age.
Whatever’s lost there is needed by both of us —
a watch of old gold, a water-blurred fever chart,
a key…. Even the silt and pebbles of the bottom
deserve their glint of recognition. I fear this silence,
this inarticulate life. I’m waiting
for a wind that will gently open this sheeted water
for once, and show me what I can do
for you, who have often made the unnameable
nameable for others, even for me.
Another poem first read in college, although this one I picked up on my own. It’s strange to me how easily I picked out these two poems, as though they still sung to me from the shelf. When I opened up The Dream of a Common Language, the book fell open to just this poem, as cookbooks often do to the most used recipe. Once upon a time, this reflected what I would’ve like to have said to someone I loved very much; now, I wonder if I’m more like the object of the poem myself.