Illustration: Somnath Bhatt.

I touch my toes.

When I was a child,
this was difficult.
Now I touch my toes daily.

In 2012, in Sanford, Florida,
someone nearby was touching her toes before bed.

Three weeks ago,
in the Philippines or Myanmar, someone was stretching.

Tomorrow, someone elsewhere will bend
first to one side, then the other.

I also do ten push-ups, morning and evening.

Women’s push-ups,
from the knees.
They resemble certain forms of religious bowing.

In place of one, two, four, seven,
I count the names of incomprehension: Sanford, Ferguson, Charleston.
Aleppo, Sarajevo, Nagasaki.

I never reach: Troy, Ur.

I have done this for years now.
Bystander, listener. One of the lucky.
I do not seem to grow stronger.

Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield’s ninth poetry collection, Ledger, will appear from Knopf in 2020. The founder in 2017 of Poets For Science, she is also the author of two now-classic books of essays, Nine Gates and Ten Windows, and four books collecting world poets from the past. Honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, the NEA, and the Academy of American Poets, and the Poetry Center and California Book Awards. Hirshfield is a former chancellor of The Academy of American Poets, and her work appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The TLS, The Paris Review, Poetry, and ten volumes of The Best American Poetry.