The Widening Sky by-Edward Hirsch
By Norah Christianson
It’s a hot day. I’m just back from the liquor store with some white wine, ShopRite’s broccoli, and a book from the library. I’m hot and sweaty, but I sit for awhile with the fan on me and Edward Hirsch’s poem “The Widening Sky” in my lap.
Reading it, I’m immediately reminded of what it is like to walk along Long Beach at night and feel that crazy Yip! —that bolt of happiness, that sense of love come down from the “widening sky” to infuse my whole being. It has to do with the wind sighing “for hundreds of miles,” the enormity of the sky and water making me feel small and insignificant.
What’s to worry when you understand you are nothing, a speck, a microscopic mote?
These feelings are not constant. You have to woo them sometimes, especially as you get older. For it also has to do with not just your soul and your mind, but your animal spirits—which you have more of when you’re young. So go out, go out under the sky, even if it’s just in your backyard, and look up at that immensity, and give a YIP!
The Widening Sky
I am so small walking on the beach
at night under the widening sky.
The wet sand quickens beneath my feet
and the waves thunder against the shore.
I am moving away from the boardwalk
with its colorful streamers of people
and the hotels with their blinking lights.
The wind sighs for hundreds of miles.
I am disappearing so far into the dark
I have vanished from sight.
I am a tiny seashell
that has secretly drifted ashore
and carries the sound of the ocean
surging through its body.
I am so small now no one can see me.
How can I be filled with such a vast love?
Edward Hirsch, an American poet and critic, was born in Chicago in 1950. Even from a child, he was in love with poetry. He’s received many honors and prizes, and his book, How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, 1999, I highly recommend. Hirsch lives in Brooklyn now, and is the president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.