I last saw the poet Adrienne Rich at a reading in Santa Cruz, our shared home town.
It was at Bookshop Santa Cruz. She was frail, certainly, and needed a bit of help getting around, but she still exuded that singular vitality, gravitas, charisma, and presence that had been her emotional calling card for decades.
She listened to every word. The poets who read that night may only now know how lucky they were. Death changes things.
I didn’t read that night. Nor did I even talk to her. She was in the front row, I was in the back. She was a legend, I was a poet with a single book to my name, and not a well-known one at that.
Another time & place, and we could have/would have talked, and she would have, it’s true; she was like that.
But not that night, no. That night, only the words. Only the words of the poets.
And now, no more words from Adrienne. She has left us. Certainly her right; she’s given more to us than many have, and been quite courageous in doing so. But still, hard to believe she’ll write for us no longer.
Feminist? Fine, if you must. Activist? Again, if need be.
But so much more than all that. Awareness in process. This is what she was.
So why do I/we note her here? On this “wine blog?”
Because she was awareness in process.
Making her a wine we’ll never taste again.
Fare thee well, Adrienne Rich.
I am here in Santa Cruz, where the air is short a space that no one yet has come to fill.