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The Rachel


She’s in no shape to wrestle heavily,
is her first excuse,
            avoiding bone-to-bone ferocity.

Given dislocations,
            subtle breaks,
mended bits, for even if
an angelic challenger presented, 
and why to her? 
it would be a practical risk. 
            Why bother?
To be more broken than now?
            Why try it?
She couldn’t stand it.  


The surprise? 
            Something did happen, 
was exchanging
shook-scintillation folds,
when air and ground, plump with invisibles,  
confronted her with
            voicings, tones, 
whose velocities pulsed her. 

Yet any “what?” 
Left deniability.


            Some black-white Yes-No 
ribbons of hum, spiraling,
the widest wingspan—
            further than yes, larger than no.
What was this? What had happened?

            Linked whisps, inhering whispers. 
she cannot name these 
            in the lexicon she knows.

So she remains 
stubborn, resistant.
            She will not discuss, will not declare,
and will not listen to dismissive

Some say she heard that resonance
            and did sense odd 
                        from moody joyous beings, 
                        a strain of mattering,   
rooted, moving. Some say:
impossible. Some say it was only one,
            never surging layers, never plethora.

She herself appears distrustful, suspicious
            for who else hears these
            other verbs, odd reverbs?
Who will believe her?

She can only mutter against the fixed
            singleness of Word 
                        and conceal her listening
            amid the sounds and sibilants
                        of these labile scintillants.

She sensed unspoken intricacies,
            matter made in growing sound, 
rooted in unknown, unspoken networks.

Why and how had she become infused
            with tones and hums, with rhythms
that she insists she hears, hears often.
            Believable? Troubled?


Jacob was to have limped, 
            disjointed, pulled, well-marked,
hurt, impaired. And satisfied.
He will have been touched by One.
            Insistent, Enormous. A challenger.

She could not speak of her pluralities, her
            conglomerate worlds, pulses heard, 
                        her thinking alongside tonalities.

Injured?—she spits,
That J was for Jacob.
I came before this, tricky as he,
Yet I remain unheard, inured.


The Rachel stands tuned  
            to multiplicities, 
aslant in a territory of longing,
            where she becomes foreign.

            What has she found?
She listens, acknowledges another sound,
            diffuse, multiple,  
pulsing thought, oscillations, whisperings,
            never only one.


Inured, the Rachel wanders in a zone 
keyed only to the single story
            all others seem to agree to. 
Who talks of more stories—who
            knows what she has
            listened to, the low, multiple reverbs,
that tolled
            an uncountable trailing 
of threads, roots, cells, trills,
            of wings, of cellbursts 
flashing consciousnesses, of
            lambent junctures
presences neither set in any text
nor closed tight in any ark.


The Rachel: doubly, triply exilic,
saturate with twanging undertones,
            with sounded textures.

She enters these tangles.
            Ululations. It’s 
the play of
            vibrancy she hears,
                        in clashed throbs— 
concord, resonance, difference, 
            the many metamorphosing angles.

June 2022–July 2023

Selected Poems,1980-2020 by Rachel Blau DuPlessis was published by CHAX Press in 2022. A Long Essay on the Long Poem (University of Alabama Press) and the collage-poem book Life in Handkerchiefs (Materialist Press) both appeared in 2023. Expected soon is Daykeeping from Selva Oscura.