Hanging on the Telephone

June 22, 2011

Quilted Labyrinth by Barbara Shapel

Labyrinth I pattern available here Barbara Shapel Contemporary Fiber Artist

by Adrienne Rich

A woman in the shape of a monster
a monster in the shape of a woman
the skies are full of them

a woman ‘in the snow
among the Clocks and instruments
or measuring the ground with poles’

in her 98 years to discover
8 comets

she whom the moon ruled
like us
levitating into the night sky
riding the polished lenses

Galaxies of women, there
doing penance for impetuousness
ribs chilled
in those spaces of the mind

An eye,

‘virile, precise and absolutely certain’
from the mad webs of Uranusborg

encountering the NOVA

every impulse of light exploding

from the core
as life flies out of us

Tycho whispering at last
‘Let me not seem to have lived in vain’

What we see, we see
and seeing is changing

the light that shrivels a mountain
and leaves a man alive

Heartbeat of the pulsar
heart sweating through my body

The radio impulse
pouring in from Taurus

I am bombarded yet I stand

I have been standing all my life in the
direct path of a battery of signals
the most accurately transmitted most
untranslatable language in the universe
I am a galactic cloud so deep
so invo-luted that a light wave could take 15
years to travel through me
And has taken
I am an instrument in the shape
of a woman trying to translate pulsations
into images for the relief of the body
and the reconstruction of the mind.



  1. I love the colours chosen for the labyrinth quilt. I’ve never been a big fan of Adrienne Rich, although in the lesbian community of the 80s it was simply de rigueur to adore her poetry.

  2. I’ve never heard of Adrienne Rich. Doncha just hate de rigueur anything? The labyrinth quilt fabric is hand-dyed Batik which was de rigueur in quilting circles 10-20 years ago. We’re such lemmings.

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