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Manoa 15.2 (2003) 41-47

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Arthur Sze


Go sway on a suspension bridge over a gorge;
you do not ponder the beauty of an azure
lotus-shaped wine-warming bowl with five
spurs the size of sesame seeds at the base,
but, instead, inhale the cool mist sliding
over pines, making the white boulders below
disappear and reappear. This is how you
become absent to pancakes smoking on a griddle—
pricked once in thought, you are pinned,
singed back to the watery splendor of the hour:
wisteria leaves thin to transparency on the porch;
a girl relaxes on horseback in the field,
while sunlight stipples her neck. You smile,
catch the aroma of pumpkin seeds in the oven,
exult at the airy, spun filaments of clouds.
Before there was above and below, who was there
to query? One marks a bloody trail in water
from a harpooned narwhal, dreams of clustered
igloos lit by seal oil. You flicker, nod:
what one has is steeped in oil, wicks into flame.


Whisked back and forth,
a fly
drops on water;

a floating narwhal
resembles a human corpse; [End Page 41]

screwdrivers, pliers, CDs,
a duct-taped taillight
strewn in the grass;

running my tongue
along your nape;

singed by
apple leaves
on the windshield;

smooth black stones
in a glass bowl;

where the mind
that is
no-mind is;

on a frosted pane.


A shrinking loop becomes a noose: at the airport
a Choctaw writer scrawls a few words to his wife,
creases the paper, fires a slug into his chest.
A woman smokes, ruminates on a blank canvas
she does not yet know will remain blank.
I push hoops into the dirt, prop up a few
tomato branches: a single black Krim has reseeded
from last summer. I uproot some weeds, toss them,
but, in thought, recoil from flies on a squirrel;
open a lid to a plastic barrel: find hamburger
wrappers, stomped soda cans; notice irregular bits
of white glass near where I vacuum my car.
As a red snake snags its epidermis, the mind snags,
molts from inside out. Although sand plunges
in an hourglass—soon the last white particles
will vanish from the top—I ache for a second,
sulfur butterfly pinned over black paper, to stop:
but, eelgrass in tidal water, I catch the scent
of tomato leaves on my hands, sway palms near
a horse's head: flies flit and land, flit and reland. [End Page 42] [Begin Page 44]


Incise the beginning and end to all motion;

q w e r t y u i o p, in a line above your fingertips;

align river stones for a walkway;

stop at clusters of notes from swaying copper-green wind chimes;

shovel twigs and beer cans out of a ditch;

this wave of pollen light on your face is the end of summer;

rub Maximilian sunflower petals with your hands;

sniff red-silk pane-bark patterned gauze unearthed out of a tomb;

splay juniper with an ax;

water brims her eyes when you stroke her wrist;

observe a Bombyxmori consume mulberry leaves for seven days;

ponder a missing shade of blue;

sweat when you eat that Chimayo chili stuffed with lamb;

pinch off basil flowers;

graze patches of faint aquamarine paint on a bathroom door;


revolve a polygon inside a circle;

squint up at a magpie nest in the cottonwood branches;

survey a skater's mark left on the ice in executing a half-turn;

inscribe the beginning and end to all motion. [End Page 44]


In the zero sunlight a man at a stoplight
waving today's newspaper becomes a man
who, wiping windshields at night in a drizzle
as cars come off the Brooklyn Bridge,
opens his hands. Behind your parked car,
you stoop to examine a speckled brown egg
on the gravel, glance up to sight a ring-tailed
lemur on a branch. Though no red-winged
blackbirds nest in the cattails this summer,
though someone has tried to drain the pond
into a nearby acequia, there is nothing
to drain, and you...


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