- Orange in the Wilderness, and: Odes to the Pear Tree
orange in the wilderness
sun rises in Southeastorange in wildernessyellow in orangesunshine in orangeshadow in orangeorange next to orangeorange on the roof
sun sets in Westorange in wildernesssun sets in orangegray in orangemoon in the eavesnight without orange [End Page 63]
odes to the pear tree
I have reached autumn. I am done with talking.Now, the pear tree decides, Let all the pears fall.Then, the pear tree also decides, Let all leaves fall.I wait for a decision, an echo—From the south to the north: summer's loud curtain fall.But I only faintly hear pear flowers calling to the pearsand the pears calling to the pear flowers.
The Pear Tree and the Pear
I hear, beyond the horizon.Deep autumn, day opens, night winds in the valley quicken the egg-stones,Robert Frost's ladder's sticking through the pear tree,high into the pear leaves.Frost is not here—only a horse saddle is here.I am not here—only a bamboo basket is here.A pear asks another pear—all pears ask pears,Why are our pear pits all sour, a sourness stretching to antiquity and back?A pear replies, This is not a pear's decision. It is the tree's.A pear tree suddenly shivers.A tree says, Maybe it is the white flower of spring.Another tree says, Maybe it is the greening wind, the moistening rain, or the shadowing light.Another one says, Maybe it was that ladder. Those chairs.The sun crosses noon. You don't hear the babbling pears.Sundown past the mountain ridge. You don't see the yellowing pears. [End Page 64]
Li Sen 李森 was born in Yunna in 1966, where he continues to reside. His works include Shadows on the Canvas (2000), Accounts of Animals (2002), and Cangshan Night Talk (2006). He teaches at Yunnan University.
Ming Di 明迪 is a Chinese poet based in the U.S. She attended Boston College and Boston University, where she taught Chinese. She has published six books of poetry in Chinese along with a collaborative translation, River Merchant's Wife (2012). She co-translated The Book of Cranes by Zang Di (2015) with Neil Aitken, and Empty Chairs: Selected Poems by Liu Xia (2015) with Jennifer Stern, which was a finalist for the 2016 Best Translation Book Award. She edited and co-translated New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry (2013) and New Poetry from China 1917–2017 (2019). In 2013 and 2014, she received Henry Luce Foundation fellowships. A co-founder of Poetry East West journal, she serves as the China editor for Poetry International Rotterdam. She has also translates from English into Chinese, most recently Observations by Marianne Moore (2018).
Tony Barnstone is a professor of English and environmental studies at Whittier College. A prolific poet, author, essayist, and literary translator, he is the author of twenty books. His latest poetry book is Pulp Sonnets (2015). His books of co-translation include Mother Is a Bird: Sonnets by a Yi Poet (2017), River Merchant's Wife by Ming Di (2012), Chinese Erotic Poems (2007), The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry (2005), and Out of the Howling Storm: The New Chinese Poetry (1993). Among his honors are fellowships from the NEA, the NEH, and the California Arts Council. He has won the Grand Prize of the Strokestown International Poetry Festival, the Pushcart Prize, the Pablo Neruda Prize, and the John Ciardi Prize.
Denise Wong Velasco was raised in Hong Kong and is the administrative coordinator for the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment at Whittier College