Jane Hirschfield
from Given Sugar, Given Salt
HarperCollins: New York, 2001, 88pp.; $24 (cloth)

Metapsychosis

Some stories last many centuries,
others only a moment.
All alter over that lifetime like beach-glass,
grow distant and more beautiful with salt.

Yet even today, to look at a tree
and ask the story Who are you? is to be transformed.

There is a stage in us where each being, each thing, is a mirror.

Then the bees of self pour from the hive-door,
ravenous to enter the sweetness of flowering nettles and thistle.

Next comes the ringing of a stone or violin or empty buckey
gives off—
the immeasurable’s continuous singing,
before it goes back into story and feeling.

In Borneo, there are palm trees that walk on their high roots.
Slowly, with effort, they lift one leg then another.

I would like to join that stilted transmigration,
to feel my own skin vertical as theirs:
an ant road, a highway for beetles.

I would like not minding, whatever travels my heart,
To follow it all the way into leaf-form, bark-furl, root-touch,
and then keep walking, unimaginably further.

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