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,
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.
About This Poem
Jane Hirshfield is the author of The Beauty (Knopf, 2015), which was longlisted for the 2015 National Book Award. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and the 2016 Mohr Visiting Poet at Stanford University. When I read this poem, it immediately struck me as describing the way I have been feeling for the last month. When I read what Jane Hirshfield said about the poem, it hit even closer to home. Hirshfield described the poem by saying, “There are times almost impossible to navigate and silencing, when everything has come into question. The doubt behind this poem was, in the living of it, something close to despair—at my own life; at the life of the world held in any day’s news. Yet to find within the times of ash anything that might be made word-malleable, anything susceptible to imaginative leap and some sense, even, of the comic—that in itself is antidote and through-passage. By the time the poem was half-written, the window had been cracked open an inch; once that happens, some breathable air can’t help but rush in.” I’m hoping for some of that breathable air to reach me.