Jane Hirshfield, “Woman in Red Coat”

Beginning tomorrow I expect to have a bit more time for this project. Today, I thought I’d share a kind of smallish poem that, nevertheless, has stuck in my head. I think it might be the truck, “piled deep in cut wood,” that makes me come back to this poem by Jane Hirshfield. I like the painterly gestures of it, and how the title image is slipped in, as if by accident, at the very end.

Obviously a fall poem, and nothing to do with Easter. Unless everything has to do with Easter. Maybe our challenge can be to write a poem that, without ever saying “spring” or “April,” without tulips or daffodils or cherry blossoms, is obviously about spring.

Woman in Red Coat

Some questions cannot be answered.
They become familiar weights in the hand,
round stones pulled from the pocket,
unyielding and cool.
Your fingers travel their surfaces,
lose themselves finally
in the braille of the durable world.
Look out of any window, it’s the same–
the yellow leaves, the wintering light.
A truck passes, piled deep in cut wood.
A woman in a red wool coat
sees you watching and quickly looks away.

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