In these "Twenty-One Love Poems," Rich identifies her relationship to the atrocities and injustices that originate from the complex fact that she puts with such eloquent simplicity in poem 1: "No one has imagined us." All kinds of disabling self-conceptions issue from that enormity. By not officially existing, women who love women--whether as mothers and daughters, as sisters, as lesbians, or as colleagues and friends--have to struggle even to believe in the existence of their own love, let alone to live that love. "[F]ighting the temptation to make a career of pain" (VIII), women who love women must identify the injuries but refuse to be the injured party.
From Jane Roberta Cooper, ed. Reading Adrienne Rich. (University of Michigan Press, 1984).