My first ever college course was a women’s literature course at City College of San Francisco, taught by the inimitable Lois Silverstein. My journal from that class is buried in a tote somewhere in the man-cave, but I remember scribbling furiously when the professor entered the classroom for the first time, ten minutes after we students had convened, her wild hair and oversized batik vest with the wooden toggles flying and flowing behind her. She reminded me of the Mrs-es from A Wrinkle In Time, surreal and so real and intimidating and immediately a part of my heart. I’d recently been reminded of Lois and the women with whom I shared venting sessions and smoke breaks and emails and cocktails and life and love and so much, and when I read the news about Adriennne Rich’s passing today, I felt my connection to Lois and the girls more strongly than in a long time. I emailed Lois tonight, and pulled down my 3,000+ pages of Norton Anthology of Literature by Women, flipped to the Post-It flag that marked Rich’s work, and selected one to share here based on the fact that any woman born in the 1920’s who writes shit this hot deserves for it to be read and re-read and shared and remembered. We owe her a debt of gratitude, and a moment of pure appreciation for this and all of her contributions to women’s literature.
(The Floating Poem, Unnumbered)
Whatever happens with us, your body
will haunt mine – tender, delicate
your lovemaking, like the half-curled frond
of the fiddlehead fern in forests
just washed by sun. Your traveled, generous thighs
between which my whole face has come and come –
the innocence and wisdom of the place my tongue
has found there –
the live, insatiate dance of your nipples in my mouth –
your touch on me, firm, protective, searching
me out, your strong tongue and slender fingers
reaching where I had been waiting years for you
in my rose-wet cave – whatever happens, this is.