Jane Hirshfield

Zero Plus Anything is a World
September 15, 2012 Hirshfield Jane

Zero Plus Anything is a World


Four less one is three.


Three less two is one.


One less three

is what, is who,



The first cell that learned to divide

learned to subtract.



add salt to hunger.



add time to trees.


Zero plus anything

is a world.


This one

and no other,


by each breath changed.



add death to life.



love without swerve what this will bring.


Sister, father, mother, husband, daughter.


Like a cello

forgiving one note as it goes,

then another.

Jane Hirshfield‘s most recent book, Ledger (Knopf, 2020) centers on the crises of biosphere, climate, and justice. Her work, which has been translated into fifteen languages, appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, and ten editions of The Best American Poetry.  A former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and founder of Poets For Science, she was elected in 2019 to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Photo: © Curt Richter