Jane Hirshfield

Fado

About the Poem

Poem by Jane Hirshfield

A man reaches close
and lifts a quarter
from inside a girl’s ear,
from her hands takes a dove
she didn’t know was there.
Which amazes more,
you may wonder:
the quarter’s serrated murmur
against the thumb
or the dove’s knuckled silence?
That he found them,
or that she never had,
or that in Portugal,
this same half-stopped moment,
it’s almost dawn,
and a woman in a wheelchair
is singing a fado
that puts every life in the rom
on one pan of a scale,
itself on the other,
and the copper bowls balance.

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