I first read this poem at Thanksgiving, the title blurring with traditional Thanksgiving themes about blessing the 'ties that bind.' Those binding ties have sometimes served to bind in ways not so sanguine, and I though the poem tied in nicely with some thoughts I'd had about leaving home and familiarity. Later, I reread the poem just after a rather disastrous meal with a couple who turned on each other after dinner, a squabble that turned to bickering and bitter recriminations. There are, I reflected, things that bind us; certain things that are knotted between us and cause us to stumble as surely as a coil of rope on the floor, encountered in murky darkness.
I read this poem a third time this morning, and decided that it was high time you read it, too.
For What Binds Us
There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they've been set down-
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.
And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
than the simple, untested surface before.
There's a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,
as all flesh
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest-
And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.
-- a poem by Jane Hirshfield from Of Gravity and Angels © 1988, Wesleyan University Press.
Listen to a bonus poem by Jane Hirschfield, and find the rest of the Poetry People at Gina's today. Visit Cuentesitos, little stories, and leave a link to your own. If you've got the leisure to read a few more stories today, don't miss the shyly grinning Markus Zusak, being interviewed at The Guardian on "Why I Write", and more news about Spielberg's Tintin. I should definitely, um, read the books or at least look at the cartoons before the movie comes out...