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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 29, 2018.
About this Poem 

“What is there to say of mortality? My friend died of glioblastoma, three years after his diagnosis. Forty years ago, we spent three months in a blue tent pitched by a stream below Blackcap Mountain in the Sierra Nevada. Blue scorpion venom: he and his wife traveled to Cuba during his illness, twice, to bring this treatment home; a few times I administered the drops into his nostrils. Persimmon pudding: near the end, when the time for trying restricted eating as treatment was over, I made one, with persimmons from another friend's tree. My friend ate it happily. As meanwhile all of us who loved him took in gratefully, greedily, his words, his dearness, his unshakeable love of this world, and of us.”
—Jane Hirshfield

Dog Tag

At last understanding
that everything my friend had been saying
for the thirty-three months since he knew
were words of the dog tag, words of, whatever else, 
the milled and stamped-into metal of what stays behind.
Blackcap Mountain. Blue scorpion venom. Persimmon pudding.
He spoke them.
He could not say love enough times.
It clinked against itself, it clinked against its little chain.

Copyright © 2018 by Jane Hirshfield. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 29, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Jane Hirshfield. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 29, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield is the author of eight collections of poetry, includingThe Beauty: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), which was long listed for the National Book Award. She served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2012 to 2017.

by this poet

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I found myself
suddenly voluminous,
three-dimensioned, 
a many-roofed building in moonlight.
 
Thought traversed 
me as simply as moths might. 
Feelings traversed me as fish.

I heard myself thinking,
It isn't the piano, it isn't the ears.

Then heard, too soon, the ordinary furnace, 
the usual footsteps
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I moved my chair into sun
I sat in the sun
the way hunger is moved when called fasting.

2
poem

Today when persimmons ripen
Today when fox-kits come out of their den into snow
Today when the spotted egg releases its wren song
Today when the maple sets down its red leaves
Today when windows keep their promise to open
Today when fire keeps its promise to warm
Today when someone you