One Penny

One Penny

One Penny

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A weekly poem, read by the author.
Nov. 6 1996 3:30 AM

One Penny

(posted Tuesday, Nov. 5; to be composted Tuesday, Nov. 12)

To hear "One Penny" read by the poet, click here or on the title.

Everything draws back,
not so much a season
as a lack.

The maple sap burns low,
unfanned. Pondwater,
ice-blown, retreats to a corner.

The plowed drive's shoe-string
drops on a half-sketched map,
dirty, untied.

A rabbit-crossing
hops to the other side--
soft fold in the paper, blurring.

Movement I can't quite catch:
the fourth deer
of the afternoon, bounding away.

Where does she bed? There is
no shelter, only trunks too thin
themselves to stop a wind,

their colored leaves
long swept off, or scrubbed,
or whittled.

One faded splinter
rattles from a twig like a cough.
Even winter's used up--

no bright fierceness, no falling snow.
An icicle drips
in watered-whiskey sunlight,

the heart tips south like a tin cup.


Jane Hirshfield's sixth book of poetry, After, was named a "best book of 2006" by the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Financial Times.