Rilke Poem

Richie Hofmann


His studio like a Bohemian’s but astringent,
a poem by Rilke framed beside his bed
in the kitchen, which he read to me
the night it rained hotly, in a language I used to know,
and summer curled the crisp edges
of a map taped to the wall.
I covered his eyes with my lips, but he pushed me away (“there’s
no returning from there”), the window unit sputtering

black flecks onto the sofa, which he’d covered
with a sheet. We sweat on it
from our hair and armpits and genitals.
Morning would efface
us both, our unfinished selves, our
need to look masculine, refined, and in control.


Richie Hofmann is the author of Second Empire (2015). He is currently Jones Lecturer in Poetry at Stanford University. 

Image: “Box.” Louis Comfort Tiffany. ca. 1910-1920. From The Smithsonian.