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Red Berries
Jane Hirshfield

Again the pyrocanthus berries redden in rain,
as if return were return.

It is not.

The familiar is not the thing it reminds of.
Today’s yes is different from yesterday’s yes.
Even no’s adamance alters.

From painting to painting,
century to century,
the tipped-over copper pot spills out different light;
the cut-open beeves,
their caged and muscled display,
are on one canvas radiant, pure; obscene on another.

In the end it is simple enough—

The woman of this morning’s mirror
was a stranger
to the woman of last night’s;
the passionate dreams of the one who slept
flit empty and thin
from the one who awakens.

One woman washes her face,
another picks up the boar-bristle hairbrush,
a third steps out of her slippers.
That each will die in the same bed means nothing to them.

Our one breath follows another like spotted horses, no two alike

Black manes and white manes, they gallop.
Piebald and skewbald, eyes flashing sorrow, they too will pass.

Find out more about Jane Hirshfield here.

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