American Life in Poetry: Column 784

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Jane Hirshfield, who lives in California, is one of our country's finest poets. I found this beautiful meditation in Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, published by Grayson Books of West Hartford, CT. Ms. Hirshfield's most recent book of poetry is the newly-published Ledger: Poems from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Meeting the Light Completely

Even the long-beloved
was once
an unrecognized stranger.

Just so,
the chipped lip
of a blue-glazed cup,
blown field
of a yellow curtain,
might also,
flooding and falling,
ruin your heart.

A table painted with roses.
An empty clothesline.

Each time,
the found world surprises—
that is its nature.

And then
what is said by all lovers:
"What fools we were, not to have seen."
 


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©1994 by Jane Hirshfield, "Meeting the Light Completely," from Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, (Grayson Books, 2017). Poem reprinted by permission of Jane Hirshfield and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.