Below is a poem I wrote an astonishing 37 years ago for an anthology called "Old Friend." (What did I know from old then?) Not much has changed, all in all. I am still enchanted with the world. Women still make 79 cents to every dollar a man makes for the same services. It doesn't have to be that way. Though I do like the persistent enchantment.
I must be a field,
restless and rooted in harvest,
balancing words between flower and fruit.
these are the days of the heaviest sun.
These are the sensual days that end toward gold.
They are healing the coming
of harvest in me, of memories,
and memories, and nothing, mixed
and sifted for new seed.
I must be a harvest.
I am under the ripe crown of thing
I am destined to hold. The easiest motion
will loosen the summer I need for myself.
So I glide into the peace of Picasso’s “Nude Woman”
as though it were the lazy golden city
I thought at first it was. And even now, the difference
between a woman and a city seems so small,
so harmless, and as insignificant as what the river does
to sunlight, or the sun to water,
both seeming so erratically nervous when they touch
and glisten through each other’s surface.
But there is little change for all the scintillating
wings of gold: The water is warmed
the light bends a little, before the river
reaches its sea, the sun its sand.
And on the roads I take, I too am bent
by waves of things that make me nervous when they touch:
I have been teased with welcome by the triangles of light
from carelessly drawn curtains on the windows of a summer night.
Then there is that ripple of almost lowered lashes.
Then I have to insist that this is my harvest.
I lower nothing. Between the curtains, lamplight, shadows,
I can make out the riddle that belongs to me, spelled “home.”
I have deserved to see these lights,
These triangles of home.
I must be a woman
for this most generous riddle of summer, the shadow
that a stranger bends into my hands,
a shadow of blond hair
that makes my books too heavy for my eyes,
and makes me test how many ways I know
of not saying “you are beautiful” out loud.
And something in me races,
whispers, is strange and wild.
If he can fill my hands with shadow,
then I must follow his hair
as he bends his head to lean
on his hand, his blond curls on gold,
that ring, that translation of love.
And something in my blood is
for the moment much too personal.
In that brave moment of learning
to hope he is happy, that ring is enclosing
my summer, a friend riding west
to a sun so strong he can see through
curtains, lush leaves, and substantial dresses,
a loved one testing the maze of the future,
stumbling step after step against gold,
a husband, still almost my husband, traveling
south, traveling proudly,
knowing that summer will follow him there.
Everywhere curtains are falling,
the kinds of curtains, if they rise again
one bows and smiles, no longer villain or victim.
Everywhere sunlight is streaming.
Everywhere things seem to fall like blond hair,
everything seems as precise as that ring.
I am puzzled and spellbound
for days. I want to touch
that stranger’s hair. I carry flowers in my pocket,
and I want to touch in any way at all. Nothing
changes. He is almost a sun, I am almost a river.
I am as warm as though I had been touched.