where my ribs are wrenched by joy

“The French novelist Henry de Montherlant coined the maxim, ‘Happiness writes white,’ which suggests that happiness is a blank that can’t be described. It simply doesn’t show up on the page. My poem playfully but urgently responds to this idea, a common romantic prejudice, by showing that happiness, too, can be written. Joy, too, is part of life and can be precisely described.”

Edward Hirsch ( 1950- )

photo of Edward Hirsch from the Poetry Foundation

“Happiness Writes White”

I am a piece of chalk
scrawling words on an empty blackboard.

I am a banner of smoke
that crosses the blue air and doesn’t dissolve.

I don’t believe that only sorrow
and misery can be written.

Happiness, too, can be precise:

Doctor, there’s a keen throbbing
on the left side of my chest
where my ribs are wrenched by joy.

Wings flutter in my shoulders
and blood courses through my body
like waves cresting on a choppy sea.

Look: the eyes blur with tears
and the tears clear.

My head is like skylight.
My heart is like dawn.


2 thoughts on “where my ribs are wrenched by joy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s