Jane Hirshfield



Great Powers Once Raged Through Your Body


Great powers once raged
through your body, waking and sleeping.
What remains?

A few words, your own or others'.
A freshened affection for silence and rest;
but also for lightning and wind,
familiar to you now as your own coat and shoes.

They lie on the closet floor
in the scent of paint and pinewood,
as if you had picked them out for yourself,
as if you had carried them home.

'What could have happened, has happened.'
The sentence repeating itself in your ear
as a pear repeats itself, each time a little altered,
on every branch of the tree.

Chair, table, dishcloth, bowl—
each thing under your hand or your eyes
your regard now as ally, as friend.

And yet this hard-won composure
feels already a little simple, a little meek—
like a painting
of yellow houses or fields, before
the narrow slashes of red have been riveted in.


Jane Hirshfield, Each Happiness Ringed by Lions: Selected Poems, Bloodaxe Books, 2005.