This Was Once a Love Poem

Jane Hirshfield

 
This was once a love poem,
before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short,
before it found itself sitting,
perplexed and a little embarrassed,
on the fender of a parked car,
while many people passed by without turning their heads.
It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement.
It remembers choosing these shoes,
this scarf or tie.
Once, it drank beer for breakfast,
drifted its feet
in a river side by side with the feet of another.
Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy,
dropping its head so the hair would fall forward,
so the eyes would not be seen.
IT spoke with passion of history, of art.
It was lovely then, this poem.
Under its chin, no fold of skin softened.
Behind the knees, no pad of yellow fat.
What it knew in the morning it still believed at nightfall.
An unconjured confidence lifted its eyebrows, its cheeks.
The longing has not diminished.
Still it understands. It is time to consider a cat,
the cultivation of African violets or flowering cactus.
Yes, it decides:
Many miniature cacti, in blue and red painted pots.
When it finds itself disquieted
by the pure and unfamiliar silence of its new life,
it will touch them—one, then another—
with a single finger outstretched like a tiny flame.
 
From Given Sugar, Given Salt by Jane Hirshfield, published by HarperCollins. Copyright © 2001 by Jane Hirshfield. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Poems by This Author

A Hand by Jane Hirshfield
A hand is not four fingers and a thumb
Each Moment a White Bull by Jane Hirshfield
First Light Edging Cirrus by Jane Hirshfield
10^25 molecules
For What Binds Us by Jane Hirshfield
Late Self-Portrait by Rembrandt by Jane Hirshfield
The dog, dead for years, keeps coming back in the dream
Many-Roofed Building in Moonlight by Jane Hirshfield
I found myself
My Skeleton by Jane Hirshfield
My skeleton,
The Bell Zygmunt by Jane Hirshfield
The Supple Deer by Jane Hirshfield
Waking the Morning Dreamless After Long Sleep by Jane Hirshfield
But with the sentence


Further Reading

Poems About Breakups and Divorce
"To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage"
by Robert Lowell
The Aeneid, Book IV, [So, you traitor]
by Virgil
A Book Of Music
by Jack Spicer
After Love
by Sara Teasdale
Apart (Les Séparés)
by Louis Simpson
Chaos Is the New Calm
by Wyn Cooper
Coming and Going
by Tony Hoagland
Company
by Karen Leona Anderson
Dear Miss Emily
by James Galvin
Donal Óg
by Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory
Family Reunion
by Jeredith Merrin
Footprint on Your Heart
by Gary Lenhart
Good Night
by Wilhelm Müller
Heart's Needle
by W. D. Snodgrass
I May After Leaving You Walk Quickly or Even Run
by Matthea Harvey
In Praise of Their Divorce
by Tony Hoagland
Man and Wife
by Robert Lowell
Multiple Man: Guest-starring me & you
by Gary Jackson
One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop
Pleasure
by Katie Peterson
Provisional
by Catherine Bowman
Remember
by Christina Rossetti
Sita
by Jason Schneiderman
The Gift
by Sara Teasdale
The Primer
by Christina Davis
The Vampire Bride [I am come—I am come!]
by Henry Thomas Liddell
To Earthward
by Robert Frost
When We Two Parted
by George Gordon Byron