Excerpt: 'Red Berries'

The Pushcart Book of Poetry

Edited by Joan Murray

Hardcover, 275 pages

List Price: $29.95

Jane Hirshfield's poem appears in The Pushcart Book of Poetry, in which editor Joan Murray culls from 30 years of annual Pushcart Prize volumes. Alan Cheuse recommends the collection, featuring "lovely work by some of the most remarkable poets writing today."

Red Berries

Again the pyrocanthus berries redden in rain,

as if return were return.

It is not.

The familiar is not the thing it reminds of.

Today's yes is different from yesterday's yes.

Even no's adamance alters.

From painting to painting,

century to century,

the tipped-over copper pot spills out different light;

the cut-open beeves,

their caged and muscled display,

are on one canvas radiant, pure; obscene on another.

In the end it is simple enough—

The woman of this morning's mirror

was a stranger

to the woman of last night's;

the passionate dreams of the one who slept

flit empty and thin

from the one who awakens.

One woman washes her face,

another picks up the boar-bristle hairbrush,

a third steps out of her slippers.

That each will die in the same bed means nothing to them.

Our one breath follows another like spotted horses, no two alike

Black manes and white manes, they gallop.

Piebald and skewbald, eyes flashing sorrow, they too will pass.

"Red Berries" by Jane Hirshfield appears in The Pushcart Book of Poetry edited by Joan Murray, Pushcart Press, © 2007. Excerpted by permission.

"Red Berries" also appears in Given Sugar, Given Salt by Jane Hirshfield. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers.

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