While preparing to review this worthy book we came across Fooling with Words: A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft by Bill Moyers. Among the eleven poets interviewed is Jane Hirshfield, a longtime student of Zen and a great appreciator of women's spirituality. She admits that one of her deepest yearnings is "to be translucently awake."
Hirshfield clearly has done the inner and outer work toward that aspiration because it shines through the poems in this volume. In the first poem, "Let Them Not Say," she laments humankind for bringing on the climate crisis: "Let them not say: we did not see it. / We saw. . . . Let them not say: they did not taste it. / We ate, we trembled. . . . Let them say we warmed ourselves by it / read by its light, praised, / and it burned."
She feels sorry about the times we forget things ("Vest") and at the same time admits "I admire the amnesia of buckets" because "A bucket receives and returns all it is given, / holds no grudges, fears, / or regret." In a series of emotionally literate poems, she addresses "My Doubt," "My Contentment," "My Hunger," "My Longing," "My Dignity," "My Glasses," "My Wonder," and "My Silence."
Hirshfield's poems speak to us about the darkness which gives birth to the dread within us. This mood is also evident in a series of poems where she depicts the journeys of "Little Soul." Still, she leaves us hoping that we can do a better job of taking care of the earth and ourselves.