One day in that room, a small rat.
Two days later, a snake.
Who, seeing me enter,
whipped the long stripe of his
body under the bed,
then curled like a docile house-pet.
I don't know how either came or left.
Later, the flashlight found nothing.
For a year I watched
as something - terror? happiness? grief? -
entered and then left my body.
No knowing how it came in.
Not knowing how it went out.
It hung where words could not reach it.
It slept where light could not go.
Its scent was neither snake nor rat,
neither sensualist nor ascetic.
There are openings in our lives
of which we know nothing.
the belled herds travel at will,
long-legged and thirsty, covered with foreign dust.
Jane Hirshfield's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (The Envoy by Jane Hirshfield )
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
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(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
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