Living In Sin by Adrienne Rich

This is one of my favorite poems.  I bought a collection of Sylvia Plath poetry in a used bookstore one summer, and this poem had been torn out of another book, folded, and stuck in the Plath book.

Living In Sin by Adrienne Rich

She had thought the studio would keep itself —
No dust upon the furniture of love.
Half heresy, to wish the taps less vocal,
The panes relieved of grime.  A plate of pears,
A piano with a Persian shawl, a cat
Stalking the picturesque, amusing mouse
Had been her vision when he pleaded “Come.”
Not that, at five, each separate stair would writhe
Under the milkman’s tramp; that morning light
So coldly would delineate the scraps
Of last night’s cheese and blank, sepulchral bottles;
That on the kitchen shelf amoong the saucers
A pair of beetle eyes would fix her own —
Envoy from some black village in the moldings. . . .
Meanwhile, her night’s companion, with a yawn,
Sounded a dozen notes upon the keyboard,
Declared it out of tune, inspected, whistling,
A twelve hours’ beard, went out for cigarettes,
While she, contending with a woman’s demons,
Pulled back the sheets and made the bed and found
A fallen towel to dust the tabletop,
And wondered how it was a man could wake
From night to day and take the day for granted.
By evening she was back in love again,
Though not so wholly but throughout the night
She woke sometimes to feel the daylight coming
Like a relentless milkman up the stairs.

Update: Ms. Rich died on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.  A nice article on her life is located here.


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