What appears to be stubbornness,

refusal, or interruption,

is to it a simple privacy. It broods

its one thought like a quail her clutch of eggs.

Mosses and lichens

listen outside the locked door.

Stars turn the length of one winter, then the next.

Rocks fill their own shadows without hesitation,

and do not question silence,

however long.

Nor are they discomforted by cold, by rain, by heat.

The work of a rock is to ponder whatever is:

an act that looks singly like prayer,

but is not prayer.

As for this boulder,

its meditations are slow but complete.

Someday, its thinking worn out, it will be

carried away by an ant.

A Mystrium camillae,

perhaps, caught in some equally diligent,

equally single pursuit of a thought of her own.


From "Given Sugar, Given Salt" by Jane Hirshfield (HarperCollins: 88 pp., $24)

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World