A Well Runs Out of Thirst
A well runs out of thirst
the way time runs out of a week,
the way a country runs out of its alphabet
or a tree runs out of its height.
The way a brown pelican
runs out of anchovy-glitter at darkfall.
A strange collusion,
the way a year runs out of its days
but turns into another,
the way a cotton towel’s compact
with pot and plate seems to run out of dryness
but in a few minutes finds more.
A person comes into the kitchen
to dry the hands, the face,
to stand on the lip of a question.
Around the face, the hands,
behind the shoulders,
yeasts, mountains, mosses multiply answers.
There are questions that never run out of questions,
answers that don’t exhaust answer.
Take this question the person stands asking:
a gate rusting open.
Yes stands on its left, no on its right,
two big planets of unpainted silence.
From The Beauty by Jane Hirshfield. Copyright © 2015 by Jane Hirshfield. Published by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.