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  • Poem of the Day: Planetarium
    A woman in the shape of a monster   
    a monster in the shape of a woman   
    the skies are full of them

    a woman      ‘in the snow
    among the Clocks and instruments   
    or measuring the ground with poles’

    in her 98 years to discover   
    8 comets

    she whom the moon ruled   
    like us
    levitating into the night sky   
    riding the polished lenses

    Galaxies of women, there
    doing penance for impetuousness   
    ribs chilled   
    in those spaces    of the mind

    An eye,

              ‘virile, precise and absolutely certain’
              from the mad webs of Uranusborg

                                                                encountering the NOVA   

    every impulse of light exploding

    from the core
    as life flies out of us

                 Tycho whispering at last
                 ‘Let me not seem to have lived in vain’

    What we see, we see   
    and seeing is changing

    the light that shrivels a mountain   
    and leaves a man alive

    Heartbeat of the pulsar
    heart sweating through my body

    The radio impulse   
    pouring in from Taurus

             I am bombarded yet         I stand

    I have been standing all my life in the   
    direct path of a battery of signals
    the most accurately transmitted most   
    untranslatable language in the universe
    I am a galactic cloud so deep      so invo-
    luted that a light wave could take 15   
    years to travel through me       And has   
    taken      I am an instrument in the shape   
    of a woman trying to translate pulsations   
    into images    for the relief of the body   
    and the reconstruction of the mind.

    Adrienne Rich, "Planetarium"  from Collected Poems: 1950-2012. Copyright © 2016 by The Adrienne Rich Literary Trust.  Copyright © 1971 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc..

    Source: The Fact of a Doorframe: Selected Poems 1950-2001(W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2002)

    Adrienne Rich

    More poems by this author


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