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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

poem walking to and fro all night

If you accept   regardless
this will be different


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.

2008, Volume 60, Issue 01 (May)
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