The following is excerpted from Darkling, a book-length acrostic poem published in 2001 to much critical acclaim. Composed of many voices, Darkling lends itself to performance. A sound/theatre adaptation was presented at Barnard College in 2002, and Rabinowitz has created a libretto version for American Opera Projects. Her first volume of poetry, At the Site of Inside Out, won the 1996 Juniper Prize.

There’s been a slippage,

slow ricochet into blear, as if

History refuses to reveal its presence in the scheme, its
Eternal being in that verg

— being or pending —

Tangled bindweed in the debris of what has occurred.

Acres of fact occupy the
No-man’s land I had hoped to explore.
Grass is not greener there, but it grows
Like crazy. And it’s so hard to find the stepping stones.

Elsewhere is a long way away.

Dust crackles there and I
Believe the fountains have gone underground
In the time it has taken me to get here, which is
Not near at all.

Every step becomes more demanding.

Sequence is the crux of the game despite
Talk brewing in the marketplace about chaos,
Entropy, black holes, and the like.

Meanwhile, I must not forsake
Scrawls on my slate —
Scores of music I
Can’t hear any more,
Or won’t listen for because I’m afraid to
Relive those old mistakes.
Everywhere there are rhythms to be
Drummed, notes to be
Thrummed in this incurable
Hiddenness, but how does one get in when
Entry seems always blocked?

Never mind, there are no

Surprises, no secrets, at least not for my
Kin, not in these fin-de-millennium years when no money buys
Yesterday and tomorrow’s rage storms today, rife with the dark.

Reprinted with permission of Tupelo Press.