Jane Hirshfield "Things keep sorting themselves"
Does the butterfat know it is butterfat,
milk know it’s milk?
Something just goes and something remains.
Like a boardinghouse table:
men on one side, women on the other.
Nobody planned it.
Plaid shirts next to one another,
talking in accents from the Midwest.
Nobody plans to be a ghost.
Later on, the young people sit in the kitchen.
Soon enough, they’ll be the ones
to stumble Excuse me and quickly withdraw.
But they don’t know that.
No one can ever know that.
This poem is expressing that things and people do not understand what they are, or what they will become. In the beginning, the speaker is posing the question of if milk knows that it is milk and if butterfat knows that it is butterfat. The comparison that woman and men are on opposite sides was not planned to be this way originally, but is how it turned out. When someone dies, they do not plan on being a ghost. When young people grow up, they sit in the kitchen like older people do. Overall, this poem is showing that when people are young, they will always say “I will never do that when I am old”, but ultimately everyone does. This poem is both funny and true. With my grandparents raising me, they would always poke fun at this concept. They knew that I would end up doing the same things they do, and I don’t even know it yet.