"Invitation"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Sept. 8 2009 7:58 AM

"Invitation"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear  Jane Hirshfield read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes..

An invitation arrives
in the morning mail.

Before you have said yes or no,
your arms
slip into its coat sleeves,

and on your feet,
the only shoes bearable
for many days' travel.

Unseen, the two small fawns
grazing in sun outside the window,
their freckled haunches
and hooves' black teaspoons.

Abandoned, the ripening zucchini inside the fence.

Krakow, Galway, Beijing—
how is a city folded so lightly
inside a half-ounce envelope and some ink?

That small museum outside Philadephia,
is it still open,
and if so, is there a later train?

The moment averts its eyes to this impoliteness.

It waits for its guest
to return to her bathrobe and slippers,
her cup of good coffee, her manners.

The morning paper,
rustling in hand,
gives off a present fragrance, however slight.

But invitation's perfume?—
Quick as a kidnap,
faithless as adultery,
fatal as hope.

.

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.

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