Erica Jong

26 March 1942 / New York City


. .Who shall measure the heat and
violence of the poet's heart when caught
and tangled in a woman's body?
-Virginia Woolf

Every month,
the reminder of emptiness
so that you are tuned
to your bodyharp,
strung out on the harpsichord
of all your nerves
& hammered bloody blue
as the crushed fingers
of the woman pianist
beaten by her jealous lover.

Who was she?
Someone I invented
for this poem,
someone I imagined. . .

Never mind,
she is me, you-

tied to that bodybeat,
fainting on the rack of blood,
moving to the metronome-
empty, empty, empty.

No use.
The blood is thicker
than the roots of trees,
more persistent than my poetry,
more baroque than her bruised music.
It gilds the sky above the Virgin's head.
It turns the lilies white.

Try to run:
the blood still follows you.
Swear off children,
seek a quiet room
to practice your preludes & fugues.
Under the piano,
the blood accumulates;
eventually it floats you both away.

Give in.
Babies cry & music is your life.
Darling, you were born to bleed
or rock.
& the heart breaks
either way.
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