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WHAT FALLS /Jane Hirshfield Today, what falls is wavering from rain to snow to rain, shifting from sound to silence and back through moments when only the breath of invisible waters beads on the windows and eaves and makes its way down. It does not want to come into the audible music, the palace where courtiers walk softly in slippers across the tiled floors. It wants us to come out, and can wait. Old love falls in rope-strands of hair from a barber's apron, quince blossoms fall while attempting to follow the rising new moon, mutterings fall from our feet when we walk— first in the pattered notes of the very young, tuneless and mild, later the shuffling speech of the very old: both aimless and pure in their vision of nowhere to go, a world which is all destination. Only between do we walk with determined purpose, pacing the mapped-out roads of our century's life, as we must, though we are wrong to, and even, sometimes, know we are wrong: the map incorrect and cruelly drawn, its colors ugly---- Now, as I listen, the falling has changed from not quite the one, not quite the other, to fully silent, and snow. Thought that rises like roses out of the intricate carpets will quiet like this, its reds and blues muted to flesh-tones, its stylized thorns undone. The kingdom will fall to a different ruler, whose armies will go. The halls of the palace, mutable, mute, will begin to surrender, wild apples will grow, while somewhere, softly, plows start up their muzzled groan— 178 · The Missouri Review What falls is independent angels, roses, stones, the fragile lace of colored light through glass, the body's window. What falls is also snow and only snow, a cold precipitate of watered air, but crystalline and visible, as we are. Jane Hirshfield The Missouri Review · 179 ...


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