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About this Poem 

"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,

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, the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem

you leapt sometimes
you walked away sometimes

that time on the phone you
couldn’t get your breath
I leapt but couldn’t get to you

I caught the brow that bid the dead
I caught the bough that hid

I’m, you know, still here,
tulip, resin, temporary—

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
In the elephant field
tall green ghost elephants
with your cargo of summer leaves

at night I heard you breathing at the window

Don't you ever think I'm not crying
since you're away from me
Don't ever think I went free

At first the goodbye had a lilt to it—
maybe just a couple of months—
but it was a beheading