Dreamwood, by Adrienne Rich
In the old, scratched, cheap wood of the typing stand
there is a landscape, veined, which only a child can see
or the child’s older self, a poet,
a woman dreaming when she should be typing
the last report of the day. If this were a map,
she thinks, a map laid down to memorize
because she might be walking it, it shows
ridge upon ridge fading into hazed desert
here and there a sign of aquifers
and one possible watering-hole. If this were a map
it would be the map of the last age of her life,
not a map of choices but a map of variations
on the one great choice. It would be the map by which
she could see the end of touristic choices,
of distances blued and purpled by romance,
by which she would recognize that poetry
isn’t revolution but a way of knowing
why it must come. If this cheap, mass-produced
wooden stand from the Brooklyn Union Gas Co.,
mass-produced yet durable, being here now,
is what it is yet a dream-map
so obdurate, so plain,
she thinks, the material and the dream can join
and that is the poem and that is the late report.
There are some great lines here.
which only a child can see / or the child’s older self, a poet,/ a woman dreaming …
by which she would recognize that poetry / isn’t revolution but a way of knowing / why it must come.
Adrienne Rich is definitely one of my favorites, but this is a poem I’ve never read until today. In the past week of reading through reams and reams of unfamiliar work, I’ve come to find that so often when poets write about writing they reveal a lot of interesting details about themselves that can be, in some cases, more revealing than anything else in their body of work.
Unfortunately, all this reading has made me a tad bit forgetful. I’ve forgotten a lot of things just this weekend — putting money in the bank, posting my contributions to APAD, etc. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go make out a rather lengthy To Do List for tomorrow.