the joyous gap

Only when I am quiet and do not speak

Only when I am quiet for a long time
and do not speak
do the objects of my life draw near.

Shy, the scissors and spoons, the blue mug.
Hesitant even the towels,
for all their intimate knowledge and scent of
fresh bleach.

How steady their regard as they ponder,
dreaming and waking,
the entrancement of my daily wanderings and tasks.
Drunk on the honey of feelings, the honey of purpose,
they seem to be thinking,
a quiet judgment that glistens between the
glass doorknobs.

Yet theirs is not the false reserve
of a scarcely concealed ill-will,
nor that other, active shying: of pelted rocks

No, not that. For I hear the sigh of happiness
each object gives off
if I glimpse for even an instant the actual
instant —

As if they believed it possible
I might join
their circle of simple, passionate thusness,
their hidden rituals of luck and solitude,
the joyous gap in them where appears in us
the pronoun I

—Jane Hirshfield, from Given Sugar, Given Salt

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One response to “the joyous gap

  • practiceofzen

    In the original text of this poem, lines 6, 12, 18, and 23 included the phrases or words that are here presented as separate lines (e.g., “fresh bleach”). Although this may be only a technical mishap, the change of lineation alters the rhythm and feeling of the poem. Perhaps the format could be corrected to restore the original text. I hope so.

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