Friday, April 16, 2010

Somewhere In A Turret - Marilyn Hacker

 Marilyn Hacker (1942 -  ) is of the generation that reached their 20s in the 1960s, a perfect storm of both personal and societal turmoil.  For many women it was a liberating time so it's not surprising how many women writers/poets found their true voices (and sexual orientation) during this time.  (Before she "came out", she was married to Samuel R. Delany, an award-winning science-fiction writer now teaching at Temple Univ. (!).)  To write powerful poems beyond early adulthood (20s - early 30s) - when angst/anger/passion can carry a piece - takes real talent, dedication, and perseverance.   She has demonstrated hers through the last decades of productive work.  Her poems are often situation or place-specific, her language is sometimes raw(er), but all in the service of bringing a reader inside.  This selection comes from her second poetry book (Separations in 1976), which followed her debut volume (Presentation Pieces in 1974) that won the National Book Award in that year. 
Somewhere In A Turret

Somewhere in a turret in time,
castled and catacombed in but
still on a tan street that
ends with a blue-and-white gingerbread house,
those rooms are still filled
with our pictures and books.  On the sill
our black-and-white cat hums after a fly.
It is getting light.  When we come in,
no one will ask you to leave, no one will send me away.

Nobody lives in the present, time
has textures past and future that
tongues taste at, fingers feel for.
The present happens in rooms
I am not in; past rooms
are only momentarily
empty, if I knew how
to turn around, I would cross the threshold smiling.
No one would ask me to leave, no one would send me

Don’t think I’m trying to ignore the time
I piled my things into a cab and left
a note for you and one for the dinner guests.
Those rooms have new tenants.  You and I
may never share a closet or a towel-rack
again.  We contrived it. I am still
surprised waking up without you every morning.
But I can’t camp out in your house or you in mine.
Peoplse would ask me to leave.  People woulod send you

Still, I am an optimist.  Sometime
we may be sitting, maybe near the ocean
on a cliff, and under the blown spray
get tangled in each other’s fingers and hair;
and in that arbitrary future, our mouth
and the sea will taste of each other.
It is so easy to make things happen
like a freeze shot ending a movie
so you don’t leave, and I don’t go away.

But you know about words.  You have had time
to figure out that hardly anyone
came back to bed because of a poem.
Poems praise and protect us from
our lovers.  While I write this
I am not having heartburn
about your indifference.  We could walk
into any room.
You wouldn’t ask me to leave.  I wouldn’t send you

                                                                                          Marilyn Hacker - American

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