My Mouth Hovers Across Your Breasts

My mouth hovers across your breasts
in the short grey winter afternoon
in this bed we are delicate
and touch so hot with joy we amaze ourselves
tough and delicate we play rings
around each other our daytime candle burns
with its peculiar light and if the snow
begins to fall outside filling the branches
and if the night falls without announcement
there are the pleasures of winter
sudden, wild and delicate your fingers
exact my tongue exact at the same moment
stopping to laugh at a joke
my love hot on your scent on the cusp of winter

Analysis, meaning and summary of Adrienne Rich's poem My Mouth Hovers Across Your Breasts


  1. Peter C. Langella says:

    Is it the cold world, the shortened time of our days that spark desire, a desire oblivious to time? The juxtaposition of snowy dark and candled love works well to create a great love poem.

  2. Paige says:

    Although Rich’s narrator in this poem is in throws of a sexual experience with a woman, the gender or sexual orientation of the narrator is not exposed. As a gay woman, I take this poem as a woman making love to another woman, but the same lines that allow me to read the poem in this view also tend themselves to a heterosexual experience as well. This, in itself is the true gift of Rich. She herself was married and never explicitly stated her sexuality, but she accurately and beautifully relayed an experience that is believed to never have been experienced by her. Rich, in her entirety, is a blessing to American poetry and lesbian literature as a whole, despite her ambiguity.

  3. eleanor says:

    Of course the themes of the poem are relevant to anybody who’s ever loved anybody. But the fact that it’s a female narrator addressing another female is hugely significant because representing lesbian sexual experience is still a radical act in the tradition of western literature. This poem does it beautifully.

  4. Patrick Cogswell says:

    I do not see that it matters at all that it is a woman writing to or about another woman. Kirsty Gunn in her article in the Guardian24/02, through which I came to Adrienne Rich, talks about her love for her children using the same images “my own breath against their soft necks”. I am an old man now, and glad to say that I have loved a woman, and my kids, with the same irreplaceable hot joy. My life is worth living just to have felt that. PC

  5. Hayley says:

    As a lesbian reading this poem, it means so much. The language is so powerful, and as I read I could be, I am, the narrator, making love on a winter afternoon with the woman I love.

  6. Linnea says:

    This is the first poem by Rich that i’ve read and i must say, it’s quite surprising – i know a little bit about her life through discovering Anne Sexton and i had no idea that she was a lesbian (i’m assuming she is from this poem, please correct me if this assumption is inaccurate).

  7. Meeghan says:

    Nice… this poem is like a faded memory

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