Thursday July 31st, 2014, 7:29 am (EDT)

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Emergency Clinic

Caustic implacable
poem   unto and contra:

I do not soothe your minor
injuries   I do not
offer   I require
                      close history
of the case   apprentice-
ship in past and fresh catastrophe

The skin too quickly scabbed
mutters for my debriding

For every bandaged wound
I’ll scrape another   open

I won’t smile
                   while wiping
your tears
               I do not give
simplehearted love and nor
allow you simply love me

Iodine-dark
poem walking to and fro all night

If you accept   regardless
this will be different

un-gainly
unreconciled

unto and contra

Adrienne Rich’s most recent book is Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth: Poems, 2004–2006. A selection of her essays, Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations, appeared in 2003. She edited Muriel Rukeyser’s Selected Poems for the Library of America. She is a recipient of the National Book Foundation’s 2006 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, among other awards.