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For What Binds Us

By Jane Hirshfield

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,

more strong

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.

JANE HIRSHFIELD will be the featured guest of Williamsville Central School District’s Poetry, Music, Dance and Art Celebration from 3 to 5 p.m. today at Williamsville East High School , 151 Paradise Road, East Amherst. This poem is from her 1988 collection “Of Gravity & Angels.”