Remaining Options

Against the Current, No. 8, March/April 1987

Margaret Randall

My temperature goes up
and “who can measure the heat and violence of the poet’s heart
when caught in a woman’s body?”
Virginia Woolf asked that
and went to sleep in her cold river. Sexton and Plath, Santamaria and Parra left abruptly
breaking the barrier of heat
as someone or something called in a voice louder than the heart.
Sexton started me down this road today telling me
Ann Frank was the Joan of Arc of Amsterdam. A different kind of death.
And Ronnie Gilbert, singing
“The water is wide … I cannot cross.”
It IS wide
but I CAN cross,
am crossing now, falling against the waves, hoisting myself aboard the craft again, going on.
Wet but warmed to this place where a lagging heat
divides and pulls me together once more.

On the silver road last night I stopped my car.
Stopped and pulled over, pulling my body
into its own curve, hugging arms, thighs, ribs.
A shoulder was caught in the silent blade of my windshield wiper.
The night was calm.
Fingers splayed against the glass and the ancient bridle
of an 18th century mount
was crushed beneath the front wheel when I emerged
desperate for air.
These are the fingers of war, the shoulders of war, the bridle of unjust death,
fragments of fear.
These pieces of my mind
that will not stay behind
nor wilt.

Temperature and music make room for the heart.
Memory presses against canyon walls chipping the dark side of flight.
I am crossing now. Oh yes, I am crossing

Albuquerque, April 1985
from The Coming Home Poems

March-April 1987, ATC 8

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