Featured Poem: On this earth

By Adrienne Rich

On this earth, in this life, as I read your story, you’re lonely.

Lonely in the bar, on the shore of the coastal river

with your best friend, his wife, and your wife, fishing

lonely in the prairie classrooms with all the students who love

you. You know some ghosts

come everywhere with you yet leave them unaddressed

for years. You spend weeks in a house

with a drunk, you sober, whom you love, feeling lonely.

You grieve in loneliness, and if I understand you fuck in

loneliness.

I wonder if this is a white man’s madness.

I honor your truth and refuse to leave it at that.

What have I learned from stories of the hunt, of lonely men in gangs?

But there were other stories:

one man riding the Mohave Desert

another man walking the Grand Canyon.

I thought those solitary men were happy, as ever they had been.

Indio’s long avenues

of Medjool date-palm and lemon sweep to the Salton Sea

in Yucca Flats of the high desert reaches higher, bleached and spare

of talk.

At Twentynine Palms I found the grave

of Maria Eleanor Whallon, eighteen years, dead at the watering-hole in 1903, under the now fire-branded palms

Her mother traveled on alone to cook in the mining camps.

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2 thoughts on “Featured Poem: On this earth

  1. Hi Adrienne. I love your poem – On this Earth. I live in 29 Palms about two blocks away from Maria Whallon’s grave that you mentoned in the poem. I did an internet search on her name and your blog came up. You have a great talent for writing and I’ll be following along to read your blog in the coming months. Thank you and best wishes to you and your family. 🙂

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