Muriel Rukeyser: Effort At Speech Between Two People

From Theory of Flight (1935)

Effort at Speech Between Two People

Poem via American Studies at the University of Virginia.

Speak to me.		
Take my hand.       
What are you now?
I will tell you all. I will conceal nothing.
When I was three, a little child read a story about a rabbit who died, 
in the story, and I crawled under a chair: a pink rabbit: 
it was my birthday, and a candle burnt a sore spot on my finger, 
and I was told to be happy.

Oh grow to know me. I am not happy. I will be open: now I am 
thinking of white sails against a sky like music,
like glad horns blowing, and birds tilting, and an arm about me.
There was one I loved, who wanted to live, sailing.

Speak to me. 
Take my hand.
What are you now?
When I was nine, I was fruitfully sentimental,
fluid   :   and my widowed aunt played Chopin,
and I bent my head on the painted woodwork, and wept.
I want now to be close to you. I would link 
the minutes of my days close, somehow, to your days.

I am not happy. I will be open.
I have liked lamps in evening corners, and quiet poems.
There has been fear in my life. Sometimes I speculate
On what a tragedy his life was, really.

Take my hand.    
First my mind in your hand.       
What are you now?
When I was fourteen, I had a dreams of suicide,
and I stood at a steep window, at sunset, hoping toward
death : if the light had not melted clouds and pains to beauty,
if light had not transformed that day, I would have leapt.
I am unhappy. I am lonely. Speak to me.

I will be open. I think he never loved me:
he loved the bright beaches, the little lips of foam
that ride small waves, he loved the veer of gulls:
he said with a gay mouth: I love you. Grow to know me.

What are you now? If we could touch one another,
if these our separate entities could come to grips,
clenched like a Chinese puzzle ... yesterday
I stood in a crowded street that was live with people,
and no one spoke a word, and the morning shone.
Everyone silent, moving... Take my hand.    
Speak to me.

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