Poem: A Ream of Paper

Poem: A Ream of Paper

From our poet of the month: Jane Hirshfield

Getty Images/nizha2

“It may be that poetry’s work is preparatory, like the work of the earthworms in garden soil.”

I have a ream of paper,
a cartridge of ink,

a wool scarf for warmth.

Whatever handcuffs the soul,
I have brought here.

Whatever distances the heart,
I have brought here.

A deer rises onto her haunches
to reach for an apple,

though many fallen apples are on the ground.

Excerpted from Ledger by Jane Hirshfield. Copyright © 2020 by Jane Hirshfield. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Listen to Jane Hirshfield read “A Ream of Paper”:

Jane Hirshfield shared her insight with S&H:

“Permeability of being is built into how poems work. To understand the word beetle, or apple, or deer, we become, for a moment, beetle, apple... become the tree and the deer reaching into its branches.

It may be that poetry’s work is preparatory, like the work of the earthworms in garden soil: its own completion but also a tilling, a making of lightened, turned ground that supports further life. One earthworm may not make much of a difference; but the existence of earthworms, microbes, and the innumerable other unnamed, uncounted beings, is indispensable to the survival of a larger wholeness. So it is with our words. I write poems, one at a time, that speak, I hope, into my bewilderment and my griefs, but also of this world’s opulence, connection, abundance, amazement, surprise.”

Read more from Jane Hirshfield: the poems “Practice and “Falcon.”

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