Friday, August 26, 2011

I Wish I'd Written This

My wife and I were privileged to attend a reading by Jane Hirshfield at Oregon State University a year or so ago.  She is a gentle reader and a powerful writer.  I love this one.

By Jane Hirshfield

My mare, when she was in heat,   
would travel the fenceline for hours,   
wearing the impatience
in her feet into the ground.

Not a stallion for miles, I’d assure her,   
give it up.

She’d widen her nostrils,
sieve the wind for news, be moving again,   
her underbelly darkening with sweat,   
then stop at the gate a moment, wait   
to see what I might do.
Oh, I knew
how it was for her, easily
recognized myself in that wide lust:   
came to stand in the pasture
just to see it played.
Offered a hand, a bucket of grain—
a minute’s distraction from passion   
the most I gave.

Then she’d return to what burned her:   
the fence, the fence,
so hoping I might see, might let her free.   
I’d envy her then,
to be so restlessly sure
of heat, and need, and what it takes   
to feed the wanting that we are—

only a gap to open
the width of a mare,
the rest would take care of itself.   
Surely, surely I knew that,
who had the power of bucket   
and bridle—
she would beseech me, sidle up,   
be gone, as life is short.
But desire, desire is long.

From Of Gravity and Angels by Jane Hirshfield.

Click on the title to go to's posting of Heat and listen to Jane Hirshfield read her poem.  Click on the poet's name to learn more about Jane Hirshfield.


  1. One day I hope to write poems like this...

    The imagery here is unbelievably real. It makes me want to want something so bad that I feel I would die if I did not achieve it. Nothing means more in life to me; to know what I want and set my mind at it despite distractions (the bucket). reminds me of this

  2. Oh this is vivid and true! thanks for sharing.

  3. WOW this is an excellent poem. As I read this I could hear Sally Kellerman's voice her throaty passion would be perfect for this piece. I loved the image it placed in my head. I coudl actually feel the horse's need for escape, to be sated. Great choice Dan!

  4. Oh I love this poem, which says so much about human desire in an under-stated way, while describing the mare's uncomplicated need. Fantastic pick, Dan!

  5. This is so good. I love that it is about female desire!!! So grounded and so powerful.


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