Heat

By Jane Hirshfield b. 1953 Jane Hirshfield
My mare, when she was in heat,   
would travel the fenceline for hours,   
wearing the impatience
in her feet into the ground.

Not a stallion for miles, I’d assure her,   
give it up.

She’d widen her nostrils,
sieve the wind for news, be moving again,   
her underbelly darkening with sweat,   
then stop at the gate a moment, wait   
to see what I might do.
Oh, I knew
how it was for her, easily
recognized myself in that wide lust:   
came to stand in the pasture
just to see it played.
Offered a hand, a bucket of grain—
a minute’s distraction from passion   
the most I gave.

Then she’d return to what burned her:   
the fence, the fence,
so hoping I might see, might let her free.   
I’d envy her then,
to be so restlessly sure
of heat, and need, and what it takes   
to feed the wanting that we are—

only a gap to open
the width of a mare,
the rest would take care of itself.   
Surely, surely I knew that,
who had the power of bucket   
and bridle—
she would beseech me, sidle up,   
be gone, as life is short.
But desire, desire is long.

Jane Hirshfield, “Heat” from Of Gravity and Angels. Copyright © 1988 by Jane Hirshfield. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Of Gravity and Angels (Wesleyan University Press, 1988)

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Poet Jane Hirshfield b. 1953

Subjects Nature, Relationships, Pets, Love, Animals, Desire

Poetic Terms Free Verse