A Poem For Daughters and Women

Thursday, December 26, 2019
Julian, California

A Poem For Daughters

Escaped to east San Diego County to hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail, only to become snowed in today inside an AirBnb outside Julian, California. Looks like left over Chinese food, oatmeal, and coffee will provide nutrition for this post-Jesus’-birthday day. No kitchen here, only a microwave in the bathroom.

I just now read this Adrienne Rich poem, from 1974, which begs for sharing. The internet offers, at least for now, my only possible means of movement. The cabin is entirely surrounded by white—cars immobile, trees weighted down, the ground quietly carpeted.

The forthcoming poem is part of a set of exchanges between my friend, David, the English-Literature-Genius who is educating me in the genre, and I.

Forty-years of psychoanalytic work have taught me about the poetry of dreams.

We all create poetry in our sleep or when lost in our imaginations.

In our dreams the poems emerge, following the same patterns of comedy and tragedy in all literature.

But I have thus far lacked the patience to read poems by poets or poetesses.

However, I will always remember two lines from T.S. Eiot’s, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

Like dream analysis, interpretations of even these two lines are endless.

Women moving through life, artistically, perhaps?

It has a melancholy feel, but maybe that’s a remnant of the rest of the poem.

My age, friendship, and curiosity call me to delve further into the poetic now, and thus here comes the promised poem.


Living    in the earth-deposits    of our history

Today a backhoe divulged   out of a crumbling flank of earth

one bottle    amber    perfect    a hundred-year-old

cure for fever    or melancholy    a tonic

for living on this earth    in the winters of this climate

Today I was reading about Madam Curie:

she must have known she suffered    from radiation sickness

her body bombarded for years    by the element

she had purified

It seems she denied to the end

the source of the cataracts on her eyes

the cracked and suppurating skin    of her finger-ends

till she could no longer hold    a test-tube or a pencil

She died    a famous woman    denying

her wounds


her wounds    came    from the same source as her power

Can you see the possible meanings of this dream-like poem?

It’s about women mostly, I think, and the power emanating from their unique wounds. And their power, more generally.

It’s about the wounds suffered by every one of us.

It mirrors those aphorisms of how every injury brings strength to us.

I now get out of the way and invite you to find your own meanings from it.

Beautiful, though, don’t ya think?

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