by Jane Hirshfield

Day after quiet day passes.
I speak to no one besides the dog.
To her,
I murmur much I would not otherwise say.

We make plans
then break them on a moment's whim.
She agrees;
though sometimes bringing
to my attention a small blue ball.

Passing the fig tree
I see it is
suddenly huge with green fruit,
which may ripen or not.

Near the gate,
I stop to watch
the sugar ants climb the top bar
and cross at the latch,
as they have now in summer for years.

In this way I study my life.
It is,
I think today,
like a dusty glass vase.

A little water,
a few flowers would be good,
I think;
but do nothing. Love is far away.
Incomprehensible sunlight falls on my hand.

please note: art by Rachael Malloch


  1. Such loneliness. It's beautiful though.

  2. You find the loveliest of haunting poems... this is a gem... the dog bringing the blue ball, but love is far away... and so our lives roll along their bumpy paths, going god only knows where...

    Hope summer in Sin City is treating you well...

  3. Very sad...
    melancholy, in a beautiful way...
    Hope this is not a reflection...

  4. Though a little sad, I do tend to find the companionship of the dog comforting. They keep our secrets well.

  5. Beautiful and sad. Where would we be without our pets?

  6. Lovely - I don't know if the mood at the end is exactly sad - but I can't pin it down. The "incomprehensible sunlight" - aloneness, stillness. Then there's the title: Respite. The painting captures some of the feeling of light in the poem.

  7. A little loneliness is good for the heart, I think. Not too much, though. Just enough to inspire a beautiful piece of poetry.

  8. This is a beautiful poem!

    I think it is infused with "mono no aware" a Japanese phrase that vaguely means a sweet, melancholic awareness of the beauty and pathos of life. Not exactly sad, but...

    It is hard to describe in English, but you'll recognize it when you see it. And this lovely poem is infused with it.


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