English poetry

Poems in English

Year's End

for Audre Lorde and Sonny Wainwright

Twice in my quickly disappearing forties
Someone called while someone I loved and I were
Making love to tell me another woman had died of cancer.

Seven years apart, and two different lovers:
Underneath the numbers, how lives are braided,
How those women’s death and lives, lived and died, were
Interleaved also.

Does lip touch on lip a memento mori?
Does the blood-thrust nipple against its eager
Mate recall, through lust, a breast’s transformations
Sometimes are lethal?

Now or later, what’s the enormous difference?
If one day is good, is a day sufficient?
Is it fear of death with which I’m so eager
To live my life out

Now and in its possible permutations
With the one I love? (Only four days later,
She was on a plane headed west across the
Atlantic, work-bound.)

Men and women, mortally wounded where we
Love and nourish, dying at thirty, forty,
Fifty, not on barricades, but in beds of
Unfulfilled promise:

Tell me, senators, what you call abnormal?
Each day’s obits read as if there’s a war on.
Fifty-eight-year-old poet dead of cancer:
Warrior woman

Laid down with the other warrior women.
Both times when the telephone rang, I answered,
Wanting not to, knowing I had to answer,
Go from two bodies’

Infinite approach to a crest of pleasure
Through the disembodied voice from a distance
Saying one loved body was clay, one wave of
Mind burst and broken.

Each time we went back to each other’s hands and
Mouths as to a requiem where the chorus
Sings death with irrelevant and amazing
Bodily music.

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Poem Year's End - Marilyn Hacker