Tuesday Poem: My Doubt by Jane Hirshfield

I wake, doubt, beside you,
like a curtain half-open.

I dress doubting,
like a cup
undecided if it has been dropped.

I eat doubting,
work doubting,
go out to a dubious cafe with skeptical friends.

I go to sleep doubting myself,
as a herd of goats
sleep in a suddenly gone-quiet truck.

I dream you, doubt,
for what is the meaning of dreaming
if not that all we are while inside it
is transient, amorphous, in question?

Left hand and right hand,
doubt, you are in me,
throwing a basketball, guiding my knife and my fork.
Left knee and right knee,
we run for a bus,
for a meeting that surely will end before we arrive.

I would like
to grow content in you, doubt,
as a double-hung window
settles obedient into its hidden pulleys and ropes.

I doubt I can do so:
your own counterweight governs my nights and my days.

As the knob of hung lead holds steady
the open mouth of a window,
you hold me,
my kneeling before you resistant, stubborn,
offering these furious praises
I can’t help but doubt you will ever be able to hear.

Jane Hirshfield

Copyright © 2016 by Jane Hirshfield. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 4, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

To hear the poet reading the original and for more information please click over to the Academy of American Poets. 

Jane Hirshfield is a very interesting poet and I'm currently reading her book of essays about poetry Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) and finding it fascinating.  I love some of her comments on poetry;  'transformation is not the sole means of poetic imagination', there are also 'the muscles and hinged joints of story, the sinew of abstract statement, the footfall of a single, awakening image'. . . .  A good poem should be never purely description, but 'a portrait of a state of being, of soul'.   And the last two lines should be 'the richest treasure', offering vision and illumination.  Ten Windows is currently difficult to get through the usual outlets, but second hand bookstores such as Abe Books in the UK or Thrift Books in the US can supply it very quickly and cheaply.


  1. I am diehard fan of Jane Hirshfield.Because she is a very interesting poet and I'm currently reading her book of essays about poetry. Thank you so much for this post and i am very happy to read this.
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