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"This is a poem that I wrote last May, more than a year after Adrienne Rich's death, and have only just finished (if it is finished). Adrienne was my first woman poet friend; we met because when my first book was published, in 1965, she read it & wrote me a letter. That was an act of generosity that was characteristic of her forever."
—Jean Valentine

Friend,

Jean Valentine, 1934

You came in a dream, yesterday
—The first day we met
you showed me your dark workroom
off the kitchen, your books, your notebooks.

Reading our last, knowing-last letters
—the years of our friendship
reading our poems to each other,
I would start breathing again.

Yesterday, in the afternoon,
more than a year since you died,
some words came into the air.
I looked away a second,
and they were gone,
six lines, just passing through.

                                          for Adrienne Rich

Copyright © 2013 by Jean Valentine. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on November 27, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Jean Valentine. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on November 27, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Jean Valentine

Jean Valentine

The author of many collections of poetry, Jean Valentine has received such honors as the National Book Award, being selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets and the Wallace Stevens Award

by this poet

poem

In a circle of 12 winter trees
I’m hunched
Remembering being fled from

—Who gave me this wool sweater?
So it please you life, we won’t go alone—
Next year will be better.
Remember that white tree?

The white underpaint of the government.
The country of bone.

In

poem
one arm still a swan's wing
The worst had happened before: love—before
I knew it was mine—
turned into a wild
swan      and flew
across the rough water

Outsider      seedword
until I die
I will be open to you as an egg
speechless red
poem
There's one day a year
they can return, 
if they want.
He says he won't again.
I ask what it's like—
he quotes St. Paul:
"Now hope is sweet."
Then in his own voice.
Oh well it's a great scandal,
the naked are easier to kill.