Each Moment a White Bull Steps

Each Moment a White Bull Steps Poem

Shining into the World
If the gods bring to you
a strange and frightening creature,

accept the gift
as if it were one you had chosen.

Say the accustomed prayers,
oil the hooves well,
caress the small ears with praise.

Have the new halter of woven silver
embedded with jewels.

Spare no expense, pay what is asked,
when a gift arrives from the sea.

Treat it as you yourself
would be treated,
brought speechless and naked
into the court of a king.

And when the request finally comes,
do not hesitate even an instant—
Stroke the white throat,

the heavy, trembling dewlaps
you’d come to believe were yours,
and plunge.

Not once
did you enter the pasture
without pause,
without yourself trembling.

That you came to love it, that was the gift.
Let the envious gods take back what they can.

Jane Hirshfield
first published in Five Points, vol. II, no. 1, Fall 1997
also from The Lives of the Heart

Each Moment a White Bull Steps

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to top