If I lay on that beach with you
white, empty, pure green water warmed by the Gulf Stream
and lying on that beach we could not stay
because the wind drove fine sand against us
as if it were against us
if we tried to withstand it and we failed—
if we drove to another place
to sleep in each other’s arms
and the beds were narrow like prisoners’ cots
and we were tired and did not sleep together
and this was what we found, so this is what we did—
was the failure ours?
If I cling to circumstances I could feel
not responsible. Only she who says
she did not choose, is the loser in the end.
This is poem XI, 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.