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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 20, 2017.
About this Poem 

“This poem was written well before today's Presidential Inauguration and without this event in mind. But it seems a day worth remembering the fate of our shared planet and all its beings, human and beyond.”
—Jane Hirshfield

Let Them Not Say

Let them not say:   we did not see it.
We saw.

Let them not say:   we did not hear it.
We heard.

Let them not say:     they did not taste it.
We ate, we trembled.

Let them not say:   it was not spoken, not written.
We spoke,
we witnessed with voices and hands.

Let them not say:     they did nothing.
We did not-enough.

Let them say, as they must say something: 

A kerosene beauty.
It burned.

Let them say we warmed ourselves by it,
read by its light, praised,
and it burned.

Copyright © 2017 by Jane Hirshfield. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 20, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Jane Hirshfield. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 20, 2017, 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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Wrong solitude vinegars the soul,
right solitude oils it.
 
How fragile we are, between the few good moments.
 
Coming and going unfinished,
puzzled by fate,
 
like the half-carved relief
of a fallen donkey, above a church door in Finland.
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Back then, what did I know?
The names of subway lines, busses.
How long it took to walk 20 blocks.

Uptown and downtown.
Not north, not south, not you.

When I saw you, later, seaweed reefed in the air,
you were grey-green, incomprehensible, old.
What you clung to, hung from: old

2
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Four less one is three.

Three less two is one.

One less three
is what, is who,
remains.

The first cell that learned to divide
learned to subtract.

Recipe:
add salt to hunger.

Recipe:
add time to trees.

Zero plus anything
is a world.

This one

2