I discovered Rich in college, amid the operatic intensity of life that is the coed's lot. I formed a bond with her collection The Dream of a Common Language that has never been duplicated. I'm not alone in that connection. Here's Cheryl Strayed from her memoir Wild (via John Williams in NYT):
“I’d read ‘The Dream of a Common Language’ so often that I’d practically memorized it. In the previous few years, certain lines had become like incantations to me, words I’d chanted to myself through my sorrow and confusion. That book was a consolation, an old friend, and when I held it in my hands on my first night on the trail, I didn’t regret carrying it one iota — even though carrying it meant that I could no more than hunch beneath its weight.”
Here's one of my favorites, but so much of her work is brilliant, haunting, comforting, provocative, helpful.
No one's fated or doomed to love anyone.
The accidents happen, we're not heroines,
they happen in our lives like car crashes,
books that change us, neighborhoods
we move into and come to love.
Tristan und Isolde is scarcely the story,
women at least should know the difference
between love and death. No prison cup,
no penance. Merely a notion that the tape - recorder
should have caught some ghost of us: that tape - recorder
not merely played but should have listened to us,
and could instruct those after us:
this we were, this is how we tried to love,
and these are the forces we had ranged within us
within us and against us, against us and within us
Love Poems, Dream of a Common Language