Jane Hirshfield

All day wondering
if I’ve become useless.

All day the osprey
white and black,
big dry sticks without leaves.

Late, I say to my pride,

You think you’re the feathered part
of this don’t you?

Photo by Karo Kujanpaa on Unsplash

to my fifties



To My Fifties
Jane Hirshfield

You opened me
as a burglar opens a house with a silent alarm.
I opened you
as a burglar opens a house with a silent alarm.

We knew we had to work quickly,
bears ecstatic, not minding the stinging.

Or say it was this:

We were the wax paper bag
in which something was wrapped.
What was inside us
neither opaque not entirely transparent.
Afterward, we were folded into neat creases.

Or this:

Say we were paired
cupping two dates, a hyphen,
and much that continues unspoken.


We were our own future,
a furnace invented to burn itself up.

Photo by Amruth Pillai on Unsplash




For What Binds Us
There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they’ve been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.
And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There’s a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,
as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—
And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.


Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash 

today, another universe


Today, Another Universe
Jane Hirshfield

The arborist has determined:
senescence         beetles       canker
quickened by drought
but in any case
not prunable     not treatable     not to be propped.

And so.

The branch from which the sharp-shinned hawks and their mate-cries.

The trunk where the ant.

The red squirrels’ eighty foot playground.

The bark  cambium    pine-sap    cluster of needles.

The Japanese patterns       the ink-net.

The dapple on certain fish.

Today, for some, a universe will vanish.
First noisily,
then just another silence.

The silence of after, once the theater has emptied.

Of bewilderment after the glacier,
the species, the star.

Something else, in the scale of quickening things,
will replace it,
this hole of light in the light, the puzzled birds swerving around it.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash



Jane Hirshfield

Someone invented this.

If a person
pees on a wall so painted,
the pee splashes back,
wets the pants, soaks the shoes.

Surprise! the wall says.

Someone thought this a good solution.
Someone gave it a color.