Saturday, March 16, 2013


                              by Jane Hirschfield

If the gods bring to you

a strange and frightening creature,

accept the gift

as if it were one you had chosen.

Say the accustomed prayers,

oil the hooves well,

caress the small ears with praise.

Have the new halter of woven silver

embedded with jewels.

Spare no expense, pay what is asked,

when a gift arrives from the sea.

Treat it as you yourself

would be treated, brought speechless and naked

into the court of a king.

And when the request finally comes,

do not hesitate even an instant –

stroke the white throat,

the heavy, trembling dewlaps

you’d come to believe were yours,

and plunge in the knife.

Not once

did you enter the pasture

without pause,

without yourself trembling,

that you came to love it, that was the gift.

Let the envious gods take back what they can.

I decided to do these pieces for my friend, Ed. In January of 2011, he visited me. He had just been diagnosed with throat cancer. Late one night he brought out a book of poetry and read this poem to me. It made tears come to my eyes as I grasped the meaning of the poem. I have revisited it many times since and each time I have come away with a new meaning. In October, 2012 he pushed me to let him go and I agreed. I "plunged the knife." During the time I've known him, he regularly told me that I was never out of his life even though I was not with him physically. I want him to know that I have come to believe this. He hasn't been out of my life since I met him. No one can take him away from me--not even him. He is still here and I will always love him. He touched me in so many ways and I have grown from that experience. "That you came to love it, that was the gift."

Thank you, Ed.

1 comment:

Ruth Armitage said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Lenall. Thank you for sharing the poignant poem. I'm filled with gratitude.