- Arctic Circle
If the strings of a 3/4 violinare at rest, if the two horse-hairbows repose in their case—the case holds the blue of lakesand the whites of snow;she posts on a horse inside a barn;rain splatters on the skylightduring the night; she inhalesthe smell of newly born chickensin a stall—if the intervalbetween lightning and thunderis a blue dagger, if she hearsGavotte in D Major as he drivesin silence past Camel Rock—she stirs then drifts into featheredwaves of sleep; a healer rebuildsher inner moon and connectionto the earth, while she playsHangman with her mother;she stops running out into the coldwhirlpool dark; behind his eyelids,green curtains of light shimmeracross the polar sky; she has difficultyposting with one foot in the stirrup—if he stands, at minus fifteen degrees,a black dot in the snow—she ridesbareback to regain her balance;he prays that diverging raysemanate from a single quartz crystal;he prays that her laughter beJune grass, that the jagged floatingchunks of ice ease and dissolve; [End Page 14] he prays when she lights a tinycandle on a shelf; reindeer eatlichens and browse among marshesat the height of summer—if she bows and hears applausethen puts her bow to the string,if she decides, "This is nothing,"let the spark ignite horse becomebarn become valley become world. [End Page 15]
Arthur Sze (1950-) was born in New York City and educated at the University of California-Berkeley. His books of poetry include River River (1987), Archipelago (1995), The Redshifting Web (1998), Quipu (2005), and The Gingko Light (2009). His books as a translator of Chinese poetry include The Willow Wind (1972), Two Ravens (1976), and The Silk Dragon (2001). In 2010, he edited the collection Chinese Writers on Writing. Sze's honors include a Lannan Literary Award, an American Book Award, the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writer's Award, and a Western States Book Award for Translation. He has received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.