Agile as Truth


ship rack and lighthouse

Here’s a poem by Adrienne Rich:

For This


If I’ve reached for your lines ( I have)

like letters from the dead that stir the nerves

Dowsed you for a springhead

to water my thirst

Dug into my compost skeletons and petals

you surely meant to catch the light:


At work in my wormeaten wormwood-raftered

stateless underground

have I a plea?


If I’ve touched your finger

with a ravenous tongue

licked from your palm a rift of salt

If I’ve dreamt or thought you

a pack of blood   fresh-drawn

hanging darkred from a hook

higher than my heart

( you who understand transfusion)

where else should I appeal?


A pilot light lies low

while the gas jets sleep

( a cat getting toed from stove

Into nocturnal ice)

language uncommon and agile as truth

melts down the most intractable silence


A lighthouse keeper’s ethics:

you tend for all or none

For this you might set your furniture on fire

a this we have blundered over

as if the lamp could be shut off at will

Rescue denied for some


and still a lighthouse be.



<a href=””>Agile</a&gt;

Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

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