Jane Hirshfield



For What Binds Us

By Jane Hirshfield



There are names for what binds us:

strong forces, weak forces.

Look around, you can see them:

the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,

nails rusting into the places they join,

joints dovetailed on their own weight. 

The way things stay so solidly

wherever they’ve been set down—

and gravity, scientists say, is weak.

And see how the flesh grows back

across a wound, with a great vehemence,

more strong

than the simple, untested surface before.

There’s a name for it on horses,

when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,

as all flesh,

is proud of its wounds, wears them

as honors given out after battle,

small triumphs pinned to the chest—

And when two people have loved each other

see how it is like a 

scar between their bodies,

stronger, darker, and proud;

how the black cord makes of them a single fabric

that nothing can tear or mend.

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