What Kinds of Times Are These by Adrienne Rich

There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill

and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows

near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted

who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but

don't be fooled,

this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,

our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,

its own way of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods

meeting the unmarked strip of light-

ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:

I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you

anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these

to have you listen at all, it's necessary

to talk about trees.


  1. I have never read this poem by Rich. What book is it in? There is a stand of trees in my hometown, along the road to Fort Ticonderoga (a revolutionary road) that this poem brought imediately to mind. Thanks for posting it!

    I once met Rich at a reading. I was fresh out of grad school. I gushed (ew!) "I want to be a writer..." She said, none too kindly, "If you want to be a writer, don't talk about it. Just write." She was right, of course!


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