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For The Record Analysis

Author: poem of Adrienne Rich Type: poem Views: 8

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The clouds and the stars didn't wage this war

the brooks gave no information

if the mountain spewed stones of fire into the river

it was not taking sides

the raindrop faintly swaying under the leaf

had no political opinions

and if here or there a house

filled with backed-up raw sewage

or poisoned those who lived there

with slow fumes, over years

the houses were not at war

nor did the tinned-up buildings

intend to refuse shelter

to homeless old women and roaming children

they had no policy to keep them roaming

or dying, no, the cities were not the problem

the bridges were non-partisan

the freeways burned, but not with hatred

Even the miles of barbed-wire

stretched around crouching temporary huts

designed to keep the unwanted

at a safe distance, out of sight

even the boards that had to absorb

year upon year, so many human sounds

so many depths of vomit, tears

slow-soaking blood

had not offered themselves for this

The trees didn't volunteer to be cut into boards

nor the thorns for tearing flesh

Look around at all of it

and ask whose signature

is stamped on the orders, traced

in the corner of the building plans

Ask where the illiterate, big-bellied

women were, the drunks and crazies,

the ones you fear most of all: ask where you were.


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