Rag Rug

By Rachel Hadas b. 1948 Rachel Hadas
It has arrived—the long rag rug
    multiply folded. On top, one alien hair.
       I put my face to the folds and smell despair
            palpable as salt air
       in all those rooms and houses, small and smug—
enclosures I passed through on my way where?

Whoever did the weaving appears old
    in my mind’s eye. I can’t make out her face,
       can only conjure up the faintest trace
            of an abstracted grace,
       clack of the loom. Does she know they’ll be sold
these precious things, in some unheard-of place?

I perch her on a hill, precariously
    beyond the reach of waves’ daily boom.
       Sun blazes overhead, but her dim room
            (no bigger than the loom)
       is proof against the violence of the sky
From it I further spin what I once called my home:

Endless horizons fading into haze,
    the mornings dawn came up so rosy clear;
       snails in the garden, sheep bells everywhere,
            the brightness of the air,
       terraces, valleys organizing space
and time’s cessation. So this package here

I’m now unwrapping, in New York, today
    (rugs like rainbows, woven with a grace
       my strands of language barely can express;
            dishrags of dailiness
       dispersed and recombined and freshly gay)
comes to me imbued with images,

slowly and faithfully across the water,
    across the world. It represents a time
       I myself snipped and recombined as rhyme
            as soon as I went home,
       if that is where I am. These rugs recover
the sense of stepping twice into a single river.

Rachel Hadas, “Rag Rug” from Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems. Copyright ? 1998 by Rachel Hadas. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1998)

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Poet Rachel Hadas b. 1948

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Time & Brevity, Home Life, Relationships, Living, Jobs & Working, Activities

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Rachel  Hadas


The daughter of renowned classical scholar Moses Hadas, whose early death she has said gave her a “premature sense of the yoking of love and loss,” Rachel Hadas has published numerous collections of poetry, essays, and translations, including most recently the memoir Strange Relation: A Memoir of Marriage, Dementia, and Poetry (2011) and the poetry collections The Ache of Appetite (2010) and The Golden Road (2012). Kevin Walzer, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Home Life, Relationships, Living, Jobs & Working, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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