Naked poetry

Jane Hirshfield’s latest collection of poetry, Come, Thief, begins with “the boy playing his intricate horn in Mahler’s Fifth, / in the gaps between playing, / turns it and turns it, dismantles a section, / shakes from it the condensation / of human passage.” It ends with the speaker saying, “I don’t know how a stag turns / into a stream, an arc of water,” then expresses envy “not of the deer: / To be that porous, to have such largeness pass through me.” These poems are not porous, but they are large, often incorporating ordinary objects such as sweaters, coffee cups and cats or activities like purchasing groceries. Through images like “the mandarin silence of windows,” Hirshfield creates a new language, and she provides the key, permitting readers new ways of seeing and experiencing love or death or friendship. These poems run “out naked in the sun” and then run “out naked in the rain.”