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 )
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(July 15 1964)
Hans Christian Andersen
(2 April 1805 – 4 August 1875)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(21 May 1855 – 27 November 1916)
(12 February 1828 – 18 May 1909)
(13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(1644 - 1694)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)