Friday, May 17, 2013

Jane Hirshfield: "Burlap Sack"

A person is full of sorrow
the way a burlap sack is full of stones or sand.
We say, “Hand me the sack,”
but we get the weight.
Heavier if left out in the rain.
To think that the stones or sand are the self is an error.
To think that grief is the self is an error.
Self carries grief as a pack mule carries the side bags,
being careful between the trees to leave extra room.
The mule is not the load of ropes and nails and axes.
The self is not the miner nor builder nor driver.
What would it be to take the bride
and leave behind the heavy dowry?
To let the thick ribbed mule browse in tall grasses,
its long ears waggling like the tails of two happy dogs?

"Burlap Sack" by Jane Hirshfield, from After: Poems. © Harper Perennial, 2007.

Image credit: "Pack Mule in Desert," oil painting by Joe Rader Roberts (originally color).


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