The Heat of Autumn
The heat of autumn
is different from the heat of summer.
One ripens apples, the other turns them to cider.
One is a dock you walk out on,
the other the spine of a thin swimming horse
and the river each day a full measure colder.
A man with cancer leaves his wife for his lover.
Before he goes she straightens his belts in the closet,
rearranges the socks and sweaters inside the dresser
by color. That’s autumn heat:
her hand placing silver buckles with silver,
gold buckles with gold, setting each
on the hook it belongs on in a closet soon to be empty,
and calling it pleasure.
The Heart’s Counting Knows Only One
In Sung China,
two monks friends for sixty years
watched the geese pass.
Where are they going?
one tested the other, who couldn’t say.
That moment’s silence continues.
No one will study their friendship
in the koan-books of insight.
No one will remember their names.
I think of them sometimes,
standing, perplexed by sadness,
goose-down sewn into their quilted autumn robes.
Almost swallowed by the vastness of the mountains,
but not yet.
As the barely audible
geese are not yet swallowed;
as even we, my love, will not entirely be lost.
Jane Hirshfield is a well-known American poet who lives in the Bay Area. “The Heart’s Counting Knows Only One” is from The Lives of the Heart; “The Heat of Autumn” is from After. Both poetry collections are published by Harper Collins and the poems are used with permission. The author’s photograph is by Mark Moffett.