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Hearing Adrienne Rich Reading

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Uploaded on Aug 20, 2008

Hearing Adrienne Rich Reading - An Unheeded Premonition by Bob Boldt

I arrived early on campus
At least five hundred chairs were deployed
Awaiting the army of the erudite
Who had come to hear the poet
Adrienne Rich read
On the campus of the University of Missouri.

A small woman, slightly stooped
With a professorial air that
Perhaps belied her sharp eye
Assumed the podium.
Sizing up the room
She began to read.

For at least an hour
Maybe more
She read from her life's blood
The stream of words of
Passion for the world
Its politics and injustice
And the specific articles of
Her indictment of it all.
And above all were those
Sharp eyes of one whom
The world has wounded too
Often for her to give up
Her loving of it now.

When finished she seemed
Somehow used up
Husked
The kernel delivered
To perhaps
Her last generation.

I spoke something to her
At the reception that fortunately
I can no longer recall
And walked out into the soft
September night
The words of her last poem
Just beginning to fade from
Memory:

"But the great dark birds of history screamed and plunged
Into our personal weather
They were headed somewhere else but their beaks and pinions
Drove
Along the shore, through the rages of fog
Where we stood, saying 'I.'"

The reassuring campus
The smell of the late summer's night in my nostrils
Filled me with joy and a fulfilling confidence.
I was thinking that
In spite of it all
There was after all
Hope that
We could surmount the present difficulties
And find a peace in the world
A personal peace
Even a planetary peace.

My memory of that moment is so vivid.

I went home and slept soundly
Through the last night of hope on earth
Before the end of the world
That came the next morning
On September eleventh, 2001.

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