Saturday, April 2, 2011

a thinking stillness


Uninterrupted, capacious,
they ponder.
Able to house many beings 
without distraction.
Traveling upward
no farther than they go down.
Across an ocean, someone
describes them as standing wells -
they sway with contentment,
as if a yellow bird had
perched on their branches;
they are impervious 
to opinion, and still this is so.
It may be that some
keep secrets,
though every touch
alters their bodies.
It may be that some 
are geniuses of their kind.
I would like, even once,
 to embrace on in its own language,
though I imagine, too,
a transaction unrecoverably cold,
as if two widows of anciently 
warring families met on a bus:
Why should even one of them excuse us?
I have listened with pleasure 
through early snow to the sharp
report of their losses.
Mixed gasoline and oil for the saw,
polished the table with bees' wax,
added the extra, unneeded log.
My concern only.  The bus
diesel on, the woman gets off,
buttoning her coat.
Incense of resin and lignin, 
of copper and leaf-sap;
token of circumspection, 
coppice of tranquil indifference,
shore-edge of pure abstain;
meditation of beetles held lightless -
I slip you into her pocket.
Single bead of the rosary: manzanita, cedar,
maple, aspen, willow, tan oak, pine.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Lives of the Heart