We are, I am, you are. Rich wrote many lines that meant something important to me over the course of her long career, but that one strikes me as core. In those six lean words, she bound us together — the entire beautiful and ugly mass of us made, by virtue of her words, indivisible. Indivisibility is classic Rich. She was a great connector of things: art to politics, love to rage, consciousness to action, society to self, power to wound, me to you, us to her.
She believed in the power of art, not only its beauty and necessity but also the real, raw, actual power of it. She agitated for poetry “as living language, the core of every language, something that is still spoken, aloud or in the mind, muttered in secret, subversive, reaching around corners, crumpled into a pocket, performed to a community, read aloud to the dying, recited by heart, scratched or sprayed on a wall. That kind of language.”
And she wrote that kind of language. From the heart and the mind. From the gut and the crotch. She pulled us into the deep waters of her own darkest reckoning and made us understand that the reckoning was ours too. The ferocity of her vision was matched only by the tenderness at its root.