No one’s fated or doomed to love anyone.
The accidents happen, we’re not heroines,
they happen in our lives like car crashes,
books that change us, neighborhoods
we move into and come to love.
Tristan und Isolde is scarcely the story,
women at least should know the difference
between love and death. No poison cup,
no penance. Merely a notion that the tape-recorder
should have caught some ghost of us: that tape-recorder
not merely played but should have listened to us,
and could instruct those after us:
this we were, this is how we tried to love,
and these are the forces they had ranged against us,
and theses are the forces we had ranged within us,
within us and against us, against us and within us.
This is poem XVII, 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.