A party in Oberlin. A male professor cornered Rich, asking questions about translating and translators. Rich politely said, “I really can’t talk about translating any more,” slipped out past him, walked across the room and wedged herself between me (a high school teacher in town) and an Oberlin senior, and asked us about our sibling relationships.
Me: You mentioned a sister as a recurring subconscious theme. Is your sister younger?*Rich: Well, a bit. I’m nearly 47 years old and she’s 46, so
there’s really no difference.
Me: Yes, but wasn’t there at one time?
Rich: Oh yes. And it took us quite while to work that out. She was always the pretty one and I was the smart one and we had to learn that we could be whatever we wanted. I think the oldest has it hardest—don’t you?Me (laughing): Well, yes, but I always that that was my opinion. My
brother and sisters tell me differently.
Rich: Oh, you’re oldest too?
Rich: And God, I’ve done it to my oldest son too.
*I had taken to Rich's two readings that day my copy of her Poems Selected and New 1950-74, which is dedicated to her mother and to her sister Cynthia. During one reading, Rich had said that the poem "Incipience" was to her sister and that the poem "The MIrror in Which Two Are Seen As One" was "about the blurring of relationships between women [including] sisters."