By Adrienne Rich

Ailanthus, goldenrod, scrapiron, what makes you flower?
What burns in the dump today?

Thick flames in a grey field, tended
By two men: one derelict ghost,
One clearly apter at nursing destruction,
Two priests in a grey field, tending the flames
Of stripped-off rockwool, split
Mattresses, a caved-in chickenhouse,
Mad Loy’s last stack of paintings, each a perfect black lozenge

Seen from a train, stopped
As by design, to bring us
Face to face with the flag of our true country:
Violet-yellow, black-violet,
Its heart sucked by slow fire
O my America
This then your desire?

by Adrienne Rich, 1964
From Collected Early Poems 1950-1970 (W.W. Norton)

Reproduced from the Jewish Culture News

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

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