Words are loyal.
Whatever they name they take the side of.
As the word courage will afterward grip just as well
the frightened girl soldier who stands on one side of a street,
the frightened boy soldier who stands on the other.
Death’s clay, they look at each other with wide-open eyes.
And words—that love peace, love gossip—refuse to condemn them.
Jane Hirshfield‘s most recent, eighth book of poetry, The Beauty (Knopf, 2015) was long listed for the National Book Award; her second collection of essays, Ten Windows (Knopf, 2015) received the Northern California Book Award. Her work appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, Poetry, and eight edition of The Best American Poetry. From 2012-2017, she served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.