In honor of Adrienne Rich’s birthday

Here is a poem by Adrienne Rich “What Kind of Times Are These?” It is as relevant, if not more so, today as it was when she first published it. I copied it from the Poetry Foundation’s web site here, where there is also an audio of the author reading it. Enjoy!

 

What Kind of Times Are These?

There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it’s necessary
to talk about trees.

 

“What Kind of Times Are These”. © 2002, 1995 by Adrienne Rich, from The Fact of a Doorframe: Selected Poems 1950-2001 by Adrienne Rich.

Source: Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems 1991-1995 (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1995)

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