By Jane Hirshfield
An incandescent collection from one of American poetry’s most distinctive and essential voices
The Beauty opens with a series of dappled, ranging “My” poems–“My Skeleton,” “My Corkboard,” “My Species,” “My Weather”–in which Hirshfield uses materials both familiar and unexpected to explore the magnitude, singularity, and permeability of our shared existence. Of her memory, she writes, “Like the small soaps and shampoos / a traveler brings home / then won’t use, / you, memory, / almost weightless / this morning inside me.” With a pen faithful to the actual yet dipped at times in the ink of the surreal, Hirshfield cuts, as always, directly to the heart of human experience. Her robust affirmation of choice even amid inevitability and her contemplation of our moral, societal, and biological intertwinings sustain poems that tune and retune the keys of a life. For Hirshfield, “Zero Plus Anything Is a World.” Her recipes for that world (“add salt to hunger,” “add time to trees”) offer an altered understanding of our lives’ losses and additions, and of the small and larger beauties we so often miss.