Perspective

Paints one wall darker than the other,
making a corner.
Makes one leaf more red than another, leaving a tree.

Blocks with a headline, a smoke plume, a phone call
what had seemed important.

Holds one perfume close, indelible, while all others
     fade.

Is cubic from every direction, except when rounded.
Sneezes at ardor, at boredom, despair.

Cannot be found in general, yet is everywhere local.

Likes magic, for which it is useful.
Likes dice.

Likes everything just as it is, then just as it is, then just
      as it is.

Enjoys folding anything—
card hands, laundry, letters, elbows and knees.

Hums softly in Giotto, loudly in Tintoretto.

Likes mirrors, windows, old portraits, taking the long
      view—

this Chinese scroll, for instance, unrolling as if
     without limit
its small boat, downrushing river, and strolling
     long-sleeved officials
in oddly shaped caps,
the curious horse looking out
from behind the long-needled pine it’s been
     momentarily tied to forever.

Presented by

Jane Hirshfield’s most recent collection is Come, Thief (2011). She lives in Mill Valley, California.

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it. They are repulsed by it."

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