Saturday, February 20, 2010

When Your Life Looks Back

"When your life looks back

as it will, at itself, at you - what will it say?

Inch of colored ribbon cut from the spool.

Flame curl, blue-consuming the log it comes from.

Bay leaf. Oak leaf. Cricket. One among many.

Your life will carry you as it did always,

with ten fingers and both palms,

with horizontal ribs and upright spine,

with its filling and emptying heart,

that wanted only your own heart, emptying, filled, in return.

You gave it. What else could you do?

Immersed in air or in water.

Immersed in hunger or anger.

Curious even when bored.

Longing even when running away.

"What will happen next?"

the question hinged in your knees, your ankles,

in the in-breaths even of weeping.

Strongest of magnets, the future impartial drew you in.

Whatever direction you turned toward was face to face.

No back of the world existed,

no unseen corner, no test. No other earth to prepare for.

This, your life had said, its only pronoun.

Here, your life had said, its only house.

Let, your life had said, its only order.

And did you have a choice in this? You did

Sleeping and waking,

the horses around you, the mountains around you,

the buildings with their tall, hydraulic shafts.

Those of your own kind around you

A few times, you stood on your head.

A few times, you chose not to be frightened.

A few times, you held another beyond any measure.

A few times, you found yourself held beyond any measure.

Mortal, your life will say,

as if tasting something delicious, as if in envy.

Your immortal life will say this, as it is leaving."


-Jane Hirshfield


I know this isn't the usual kind of stuff I put out here, but I heard this poem on the radio the other day (yeah that's right on the radio, I listen to NPR) and it just kind of hit home. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And if not, well, you probably can't help it.

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