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Rita Dove


"I have been a stranger in a strange land"


It wasn't bliss. What was bliss
but the ordinary life? She'd spend hours
in patter, moving through whole days
touching, sniffing, tasting . . . exquisite
housekeeping in a charmed world.
And yet there was always

more of the same, all that happiness,
the aimless Being There.
So she wandered for a while, bush to arbor,
lingered to look through a pond's restive mirror.
He was off cataloging the universe, probably,
pretending he could organize
what was clearly someone else's chaos.

That's when she found the tree,
the dark, crabbed branches
bearing up such speechless bounty,
she knew without being told
this was forbidden. It wasn't
a question of ownership—
who could lay claim to
such maddening perfection?

And there was no voice in her head,
no whispered intelligence lurking
in the leaves—just an ache that grew
until she knew she'd already lost everything
except desire, the red heft of it
warming her outstretched palm.

Submitted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Edited: Friday, October 11, 2013

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Comments about this poem ("I have been a stranger in a strange land" by Rita Dove )

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  • Bronze Star - 5,623 Points * Sunprincess * (6/5/2014 8:15:00 PM)

    ............not sure if I grasp the meaning of this write....wonder what kind of tree she speaks of.... (Report) Reply

    Rookie - 0 Points Eli Kay (9/22/2014 1:24:00 AM)

    The tree in the garden of Eden, I'd like to believe.

Read all 2 comments »

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