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My body opens over San Francisco like the day-

light raining down    each pore crying the change of light

I am not with her    I have been waking off and on

all night to the pain    not simply absence but

the presence of the past    destructive

to living here and now    Yet if I could instruct

myself, if we could learn to learn from pain

even as it grasps us   if the mind, the mind that lives

in this body could refuse    to let itself be crushed

in that grasp   it would loosen   Pain would have to stand

off from me and listen    its dark breath still on me

but the mind could begin to speak to pain

and pain would have to answer:


                                                               We are older now

We have met before    these are my hands before your eyes

my figure blotting out    all that is not mine

I am the pain of division    creator of divisions

it is I who blot your lover from you

and not the time-zones nor the miles

It is not separation calls me forth    but I

who am separation    And remember

I have no existence    apart from you



I believe I am choosing something new

not to suffer uselessly    yet still to feel

Does the infant memorize the body of the mother

and create her in absence?    or simply cry

primordial loneliness?    does the bed of the stream

once diverted    mourning    remember wetness?


But we, we live so much in theses

configurations of the past    I choose

to separate her    from my past we have not shared

I choose to not suffer uselessly

to detect primordial pain as it stalks toward me

flashing its bleak torch in my eyes    blotting out

her particular being    the details of her love

I will not be divided    from her or from myself

by myths of separation

while her mind and body in Manhattan are more with me

than the smell of eucalyptus coolly burning    on these hills



The world tells me I am its creature

I am raked by eyes    brushed by hands

I want to crawl into her for refuge    lay my head

in the space    between her breast and shoulder

abnegating power for love

as women have done    or hiding

from power in her love    like a man

I refuse these givings    the splittings

between love and action    I am choosing

not to suffer uselessly    and not to use her

I choose to love    this time for once

with all my intelligence



Adrienne Rich

Photo by Neal Boenzi



I love Adrienne's free-flowing thought and how it translates into writing. It is an effortless read filled with intense, yet gentle imagery. I have never read work by another writer that ages as gracefully as Adrienne Rich's. Throughout time, her writing remains relevant and impactful. "Splittings" is my favorite poem by Adrienne Rich.

As I grow, in love, this poem grows with me.


During each chapter of my life, "Splittings" has awarded me with greater self-awareness. This poem inspired me to learn to love with intention when I was younger. To attempt to feel without being reckless, selfish, or affected by my past. Now that I am older, I read this poem and understand that love is so much more than an emotion. It is a compilation of many actions and emotions accumulated over time. To choose love is to choose sacrifice.


July 1, 2019

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