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08 March 2010 @ 04:35 pm
Phantasia for Elvira Shatayev - Adrienne Rich  
In honor of International Women's Day, a poem:


    (Leader of a woman's climbing team, all of whom died in a storm on Lenin Peak, August 1974. Later, Shatayev's husband found and buried the bodies.)

    The cold felt cold until our blood
    grew colder then the wind
    died down and we slept

    If in this sleep I speak
    it's with a voice no longer personal
    (I want to say with voices)
    When the wind tore our breath from us at last
    we had no need of words
    For months for years each one of us
    had felt her own yes growing in her
    slowly forming as she stood at windows waited
    for trains mended her rucksack combed her hair
    What we were to learn was simply what we had
    up here as out of all words that yes gathered
    its forces fused itself and only just in time
    to meet a No of no degrees
    the black hole sucking the world in

    I feel you climbing toward me
    your cleated bootsoles leaving their geometric bite
    colossally embossed on microscopic crystals
    as when I trailed you in the Caucasus
    Now I am further
    ahead than either of us dreamed anyone would be
    I have become
    the white snow packed like asphalt by the wind
    the women I love lightly flung against the mountain
    that blue sky
    our frozen eyes unribboned through the storm
    we could have stitched that blueness together like a quilt

    You come (I know this) with your love your loss
    strapped to your body with your tape-recorder camera
    ice-pick against advisement
    to give us burial in the snow and in your mind
    While my body lies out here
    flashing like a prism into your eyes
    how could you sleep You climbed here for yourself
    we climbed for ourselves

    When you have buried us told your story
    Ours does not end we stream
    into the unfinished the unbegun
    the possible
    Every cell's core of heat pulsed out of us
    into the thin air of the universe
    the armature of rock beneath these snows
    this mountain which has taken the imprint of our minds
    through changes elemental and minute
    as those we underwent
    to bring each other here
    choosing ourselves each other and this life
    whose every breath and grasp and further foothold
    is somewhere still enacted and continuing

    In the diary I wrote: Now we are ready
    and each of us knows it I have never loved
    like this I have never seen
    my own forces so taken up and shared
    and given back
    After the long training the early sieges
    we are moving almost effortlessly in our love

    In the diary as the wind began to tear
    at the tents over us I wrote:
    We know now we have always been in danger
    down in our separateness
    and now up here together but till now
    we had not touched our strength

    In the diary torn from my fingers I had written:
    What does love mean
    what does it mean "to survive"
    A cable of blue fire ropes our bodies
    burning together in the snow We will not live
    to settle for less We have dreamed of this
    all of our lives

    Adrienne Rich
Maerhys: ♣ audreymaerhys on March 8th, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC)
the only water in the forest is the rivernyoka on March 8th, 2010 11:20 pm (UTC)
So much! <3