First Poetry Portfolio
By Jane Hirshfield
In Istanbul, my ears
three mornings heard the early call to prayer.
At fuller light, heard birds then,
water birds and tree birds, birds of migration.
Like three knowledges,
I heard them: incomprehension,
sweetened distance, longing.
When the body dies, where will they go,
those migrant birds and prayer calls,
as heat from sheets when taken from a dryer?
With voices of the ones I loved,
great loves and small loves, train wheels,
crickets, clock-ticks, thunder—where will they,
when in fragrant, tumbled heat they also leave?
It is hard to unlatch a day
from noun and story.
out of a small bowl into a large.
underwater things are fragrant to fish.
Jane Hirshfield has published seven books of poetry; the most recent is Come, Thief (2011). She has also written an influential book of essays, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry, and edited the anthology Women in Praise of the Sacred.