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Adrienne Rich died yesterday at the age of 82. The pioneering feminist and poet has surfaced in many of our radio conversations over the years. Elizabeth Alexander cited Rich’s poem telling us that a poet needs to follow her intuition fully by “diving into the wreck.”

But, it is this simple, poignant poem in which she reflects upon the Exodus story that has always stuck with me. Somehow, with the upcoming Passover season and her passing through life’s door, I find it most appropriate on this solemn occasion to share with you here and remember one of our greatest:

Prospective Immigrants Please Note

Either you will 
go through this door 
or you will not go through. 

If you go through 
there is always the risk 
of remembering your name. 

Things look at you doubly 
and you must look back 
and let them happen. 

If you do not go through 
it is possible 
to live worthily 

to maintain your attitudes 
to hold your position 
to die bravely 

but much will blind you, 
much will evade you, 
at what cost who knows? 

The door itself makes no promises. 
It is only a door.


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6 Comments

some many years back I wrote, Standing on the threshold of knowing the cosmos has no floor. 

diving into the wreck is such an important message at a time when so many would rather put a "positive" spin on things and avoid feeling the full weight of the depths, she will be missed.

Adrianne Rich kept me alive when I was a university student. Looking back, I am amazed at how barren my inner life was then. The me who I've become began to grow in part through her poetry. Thank you Adrienne Rich. 

A Woman dead in her Forties changed my life. Thanks for everything Adrienne Rich

Many of Ms. Rich's poems chronicled human rights, not just civil rights....her poetry will be read this week with great sadness at her passing but deep appreciation for her gifts.

I have been described as liminal by those with a collar.. I hope not  I hope that by grace I have walked through the door