Rachel

Adrienne Rich

There’s a girl born in abrupt August light
far north, a light soon to be peeled
like an onion, down to nothing. Around her ions are falling
in torrents, glacial eyes are staring, the monster’s body
trapped in the bay goes through its spasms.
What she opens her gray eyes on
is drastic. Even the man and woman gazing
into her unfocused gaze, searching for focus,
are drastic.

                                 It’s the end of a century.
If she gets to grow old, if there’s anything
: anyone to speak, will they say of her,
She grew up to see it, she was our mother, but
she was born one of them?

Adrienne Rich (1929–2012) was a distinguished American poet and essayist. She was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her Collected Poems: 1950-2012, published posthumously in 2016.
Originally published:
April 1, 1992

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