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  • Sprang
  • Arthur Sze (bio)

1 winter stars

You will never forget corpses wrapped in flames—at dusk, you watched a congregation of crows

gather in the orchard and sway on branches;in the dawn light, a rabbit moves and stops,

moves and stops along the grass; and asyou pull a newspaper out of a box, glance

at the headlines, you feel the dew on grassas the gleam of fading stars: yesterday you met

a body-shop owner whose father was arrested,imprisoned, and tortured in Chile, heard

how men were scalded to death in boiling water;and, as the angle of sunlight shifts, you feel

a seasonal tilt into winter with its expanseof stars—candles flickering down the Ganges,

where you light a candle on a leaf and set itflickering, downstream, into darkness—

dozens of tiny flames flickering into darkness—then you gaze at fires erupting along the shore. [End Page 111]

2 hole

No sharp-shinned hawk percheson the roof rack of his car and scansfor songbirds; the reddening ivyalong a stone wall deepens in hue;when he picks a sun-gold tomatoin the garden and savorsthe burst in his mouth, he catchesa mock-orange spray in the air;and as he relights the pilotto a water heater, checks thermostats,the sound of water at a fountainis prayer; earlier in the summer,he watched a hummingbird land,sip water, and douse its wings,but, now, a widening hole gnawsat that time; and, glancingat a spotted towhee nest on a lintel,he knows how hunting chanterellesat the ski basin and savoringthem at dinner is light years away.

3 talisman

Quetzal: you write          the word on a sheet of paper                              then erase it;

each word, a talisman,          leaves a track: a magpie                              struts across a portal

and vanishes from sight;          when you bite into sea urchin,                              ocean currents burst

in your mouth; and when          you turn, view the white shutters                              to the house,

up the canyon, a rainbow          arcs into clouds;                              expectations, fears, yearnings— [End Page 112]

hardly bits of colored glass          revolving in a kaleidoscope—                              mist rising from a hot spring

along a river: suddenly          you are walking toward Trinity Site                              searching for glass

and counting minutes          of exposure under the sun;                              suddenly small things ignite.

4 kintsugi

He slips on ice near a mailbox—

no gemsbok leaps across the road—

a singer tapped an eagle feather on his shoulders—

women washed indigo-dyed yarn in this river, but today gallium and germanium particles are washed downstream—

once they dynamited dikes to slow advancing troops—

picking psilocybin mushrooms and hearing cowbells in the mist—

as a child, he was tied to a sheep and escaped marauding soldiers—

an apple blossom opens to five petals—

as he hikes up a switchback, he remembers undressing her—

from the train window, he saw they were on ladders cutting fruit off cacti—

in the desert, a crater of radioactive glass—

assembling shards, he starts to repair a gray bowl with gold lacquer—

they ate psilocybin mushrooms, gazed at the pond, undressed—

hunting a turkey in the brush, he stops—

from the ponderosa pines: whoo-ah, whoo whoo whoo[End Page 113]

5 yellow lightning

In the five a.m. dark, a car with bright lightsand hazard lights blinking drives directly at me;veering across the yellow lines, I pass by it

and exhale: amethyst crystals accreteon a string: I will live to see pearblossoms in the orchard, red-winged black

birds nesting in the cattails; I love the sighsyou make when you let go—my teeth grippingyour earlobe—pearls of air rising through water—

and as a white moon rising over a canyoncasts pine shadows to the ground, gratituderivers through me: sharpened to starlight,

I make our bed and find your crystalbetween the sheets; and when I part the curtains,daylight's a strobe of yellow lightning.

6 red ruffed lemur

You locate a spotted-towhee nest on a beam,peony shoots rising out of the earth, but a pangsurges in your blood with each systole—though spring emerges...


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pp. 111-116
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