about poems

a while ago, around a piece I’d sent purporting to be a poem,
a friend asked, can a poem have only two lines 
 
what do you think, I answered, can it, was it 
 
which is to say a poem is in the eye of the beholder 
 
 
what would you call the following strophe, it is worth considering, the more you define what you mean by a poem, the more, like angels, like miracles, you find them, the more, soon, you find your own, the more suddenly they’re everywhere 
 
 
Richard 
 
                         ___________________
 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A Hand

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     A hand is not four fingers and a thumb. Nor is it palm and knuckles, not ligaments or the fat’s yellow pillow, not tendons, star of the wristbone, meander of veins. A hand is not the thick thatch of its lines with their infinite dramas, nor what it has written, not on the page, not on the ecstatic body. Nor is the hand its meadows of holding, of shaping— not sponge of rising yeast-bread, not rotor pin’s smoothness, not ink. The maple’s green hands do not cup the proliferant rain. What empties itself falls into the place that is open. A hand turned upward holds only a single, transparent question. Unanswerable, humming like bees, it rises, swarms, departs.  
 
 
                                    Jane Hirshfield

 

 

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