16 August 2007

It was like this

An exquisite poem, from a recent collection (After) by Jane Hirshfield -- quickly emerging as one of the most significant voices in contemporary American poetry.

It was like this: you were happy

It was like this: you were happy,
then you were sad, then happy again,
then not.

It went on.

You were innocent or you were guilty.
Actions were taken, or not.
At times you spoke, at other times you were silent.
Mostly, it seems you were silent–what could you say?

Now it is almost over.

Like a lover, your life bends down and kisses your life. It does this not in forgiveness– between you, there is nothing to forgive– but with the single nod of a baker at the moment he sees the bread is finished with transformation.

Eating, too, is now a thing only for others.

It doesn’t matter what they make of you or your days: they will be wrong. They will miss the wrong woman, miss the wrong man, all the stories they tell will be tales of their own invention.

Your story was this: you were happy, then you were sad, you slept, you awakened. Sometimes you ate roasted chestnuts, sometimes persimmons.

A nice profile of Hirshfield can be found here.

05 August 2007