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Summer 2010

Heat and Desperation

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Preparation, she thought,
as if a pianist,
limbering, stretching.
But fingers are tendon, not spirit;
are bone and muscle and skin.
Increase of reach extends reach,
but not what comes then to fill it.
What comes to fill it is something that has no name,
a hunger from outside the wolf-colored edges.
Thirteen smoke jumpers died at Mann Gulch.
Two ran faster.
One stopped, set a match ahead of himself,
ahead of the fire. Then stepped upslope,
lay down inside still-burning ashes, and lived.

—Jane Hirshfield


Jane Hirshfield's seventh poetry collection, First Light Edging Cirrus, will be published by Knopf in 2011. Other new poems appear in the Atlantic, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere.
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