Our whole life a translation the permissible fibs and now a knot of lies eating at itself to get undone Words bitten thru words meanings burnt-off like paint under the blowtorch All those dead letters rendered into the oppressor's language Trying to tell the doctor where it hurts like the Algerian who has walked from his village, burning his whole body a cloud of pain and there are no words for this except himself Adrienne Rich is an American poet. This poem appeared in the May 2, 1970 issue of the magazine.
When the ice starts to shiver all across the reflecting basin or water-lily leaves dissect a simple surface the word 'drowning' flows through me. You built a glassy floor that held me as I leaned to fish for old hooks and toothed tin cans, stems lashing out like ties of silk dressing-gowns archangels of lake-light gripped in mud. Now you hand me a torn letter. On my knees, in the ashes, I could never fit these ripped-up flakes together. In the taxi I am still piecing what syllables I can translating at top speed like a thinking machine that types out 'useless' as 'monster' and 'history' as 'la