Jane Hir­sh­field

The New York Review of Books - - Contents -


Im­mor­tal soul, I did not be­lieve in you.

Against the age’s pref­er­ence,

I wanted for your mark­ings and his­tory the mark­ings and his­tory of, say, a small ze­bra—

slightly im­plau­si­ble, far from unique, one vis­i­ble pelt meant to dis­ap­pear into the crowded many, one dark stripe alive among the crowded many.

You seemed to want to go on sep­a­rately. You seemed to want else­where, and more.

I wanted less. One mo­ment to pause while set­ting kib­ble out in a dish for the cal­ico cat who might or might not be in­side the box when it fi­nally opens.

One goldfinch hold­ing the whole Me­so­zoic dis­cov­ery, hunt­ing for seeds and hun­gry, es­cap­ing, a few mo­ments longer, the cat also hun­gry.

This dilemma can­not be solved, and will be.

My im­mor­tal soul, per­haps you went into an Arch­e­lon is­chy­ros, swim­ming with its sea-tur­tle nose above water, then div­ing into ex­tinc­tion.

Im­mor­tal soul, had you ex­isted, what more than that cold water could we have wanted? —Jane Hir­sh­field

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