Winter 2001 • Vol. XXIII No. 1 PoetryJanuary 1, 2001 |

Poem with Two Endings

Say "death" and the whole room freezes— even the couches stop moving, even the lamps. Like a squirrel suddenly aware it is being looked at. Say the word continuously, and things begin to go forward. Your life takes on the jerky texture of an old film strip. Continue saying it, hold it moment after moment inside the mouth, it becomes another syllable. A shopping mall swirls around the corpse of a beetle. Death is voracious, it swallows all the living. Life is voracious, it swallows all the dead. Neither is ever satisfied, neither is ever filled, each swallows and swallows the world. The grip of life is as strong as the grip of death.   (but the vanished, the vanished beloved, o where?)

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Jane Hirshfield is the author of two new books, The Beauty (poems) and Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (essays), both appearing from Knopf in Spring 2015. She is a current Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

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My Pronoun

By Jane Hirshfield

Say "death" and the whole room freezes— even the couches stop moving, even the lamps. Like a squirrel suddenly aware it is being looked at. Say the word continuously, and […]

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