The rules break like a thermometer,
quicksilver spills across the charted systems,
we’re out in a country that has no language
no laws, we’re chasing the raven and the wren
through gorges unexplored since dawn
whatever we do together is pure invention
the maps they gave us were out of date
by years… we’re driving through the desert
wondering if the water will hold out
the hallucinations turn to simple villages
the music on the radio comes clear—
neither Rosenkavalier nor Götterdämmerung
but a woman’s voice singing old songs
with new words, with a quiet bass, a flute
plucked and fingered by women outside the law.
This is poem XIII, from Adrienne Rich’s Twenty-One Love Poems collection, written between 1974-1976. These were originally published as a complete collection but were later re-published and included as part of another collection of works, written between 1974-1977, called The Dream Of A Common Language.
Twenty-One Love Poems and The Floating Poem, (un-numbered) can all be found here at oldpoetry.