Day Beginning with Seeing the International Space Station and a Full Moon Over the Gulf of Mexico and All Its Invisible Fishes – Jane Hirshfield

None of this had to happen.
Not Florida. Not the ibis’s beak. Not water.
Not the horseshoe crab’s empty body and not the living starfish.
Evolution might have turned left at the corner and gone down another street entirely.
The asteroid might have missed.
The seams of limestone need not have been susceptible to sand and mangroves.
The radio might have found a different music.
The hips of one man and the hips of another might have stood beside
each other on a bus in Aleppo and recognized themselves as long-lost brothers.
The key could have broken off in the lock and the nail-can refused its lid.
I might have been the fish the brown pelican swallowed.
You might have been the way the moon kept not setting long after we thought it would,
long after the sun was catching inside the low wave curls coming in
at a certain angle. The light might not have been eaten again by its moving.
If the unbearable were not weightless we might yet buckle under the grief
of what hasn’t changed yet. Across the world a man pulls a woman from the water
from which the leapt-from overfilled boat has entirely vanished.
From the water pulls one child, another. Both are living and both will continue to live.
This did not have to happen. No part of this had to happen.

Each Moment a White Bull Steps Shining into the World – Jane Hirshfield

If the gods bring to you
a strange and frightening creature,
accept the gift
as if it were one you had chosen.

Say the accustomed prayers,
oil the hooves well,
caress the small ears with praise.

Have the new halter of woven silver
embedded with jewels.
Spare no expense, pay what is asked,
when a gift arrives from the sea.

Treat it as you yourself
would be treated,
brought speechless and naked
into the court of a king.

And when the request finally comes,
do not hesitate even an instant—

Stroke the white throat,
the heavy, trembling dewlaps
you’ve come to believe were yours,
and plunge in the knife.

Not once
did you enter the pasture
without pause,
without yourself trembling.
That you came to love it, that was the gift.

Let the envious gods take back what they can.

—1994

Jane Hirshfield
From The Lives of the Heart (HarperCollins, 1997)

Hear the poem read at:
https://poets.org/poem/each-moment-white-bull-steps-shining-world

Let Them Not Say – Jane Hirshfield

Let them not say:   we did not see it.
We saw.

Let them not say:   we did not hear it.
We heard.

Let them not say:     they did not taste it.
We ate, we trembled.

Let them not say:   it was not spoken, not written.
We spoke,
we witnessed with voices and hands.

Let them not say:     they did nothing.
We did not-enough.

Let them say, as they must say something:

A kerosene beauty.
It burned.

Let them say we warmed ourselves by it,
read by its light, praised,
and it burned.