- Three Poems
A peony unfolds in a green vase.I sit to ripen: the mind is a fountainbrimming at the hub of emptiness.
Uncoiling a hose to irrigatea quince tree in the orchard, I sensewater flow before it flows
through my hands. A pilot debriefs:feeling like an irrational number,he yearns to sail to Fiji
but knows fleeing is a mirage.The word artichoke must haveaccompanied an artichoke on the journey
from Arabic into English—must have?—in a zoo, a yellow giraffe.Inhaling, I focus on lifting
vertebrae, one by one, formingnew pathways up the spine. My handsrub myrrh-scented oil on your skin.
The Infinity Pool
Someone snips barbed wire and gathersyerba mansa in the field; the Great Red Spot
on Jupiter whirls counterclockwise;sea turtles beach on white sand. In the sky, [End Page 51]
a rose hue floats over a blue which limnsa deeper blue at the horizon. Unwrapping
chewing gum, a child asks, "Where isthe end to matter?" Over time, a puffer
fish evolved resistance to tetrodotoxinand synthesized it. I try on T-shirts
from a shelf, but not, twenty months later,your father's pajamas in the drawer.
Now the stiletto palm leaves are delineated,a yellow-billed cardinal sips at a ledge.
By long count, a day's a drop in an infinitypool. The rose tips of clouds whiten;
someone sprinkles crushed mica into clayand sand before plastering an interior wall.
Through the irregular mesh of a web,you shove an inverted vase downbut, instead of trapping a black widow,squash it when the glass strikesthe floor. In Medellín, a man recalls facesbut can't recall what he wrote or saidlast night; fretting at the widening chasm,he runs from x but does not knowif he lunges to his end. Put your fingerson the mind's strings: in the silence,you do not grasp silence—a thoughtlessthought permeates you. Lifting the vase,you gaze at spider legs on the brick floor,the bulk of the black widow smearedinside the glass. A yesterday like today,he wrote, and, in his point-blank gaze,for a second, you are a spider in a web. [End Page 52]
Arthur Sze is the author of eight books of poetry, including The Ginkgo Light (2009), which received the 2009 PEN Southwest Book award for poetry and the 2010 Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Book Award in poetry. He is also a translator and the editor of the collection Chinese Writers on Writing (2010). He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.