From the Reading Journal, #30

“The poem carries love and terror, or it carries nothing.”

– from the poem “Like an Ant Carrying Her Bits of Leaf and Sand” in the volume Given Sugar, Given Salt by Jane Hirshfield.

I first came across Hirshfield’s work in the anthology she devised called Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women. Both that anthology and the present book of Hirshfield’s own poems are marvelous. I find myself reading and re-reading her poems, savoring the balance of direct and mysterious discourse. This particular copy of Given Sugar, Given Salt, purchased used, is made more precious by it being signed by the author, with the note:

“For Sara,

The only secret is to write the poem.”

We persist in thinking there is some other secret, and go in search of it, but there is no need to find anything else.