Saturday Nov 18

Sze Photo (Graham) Arthur Sze's latest book of poetry, The Ginkgo Light (Copper Canyon Press) received the 2009 PEN Southwest Book Award in Poetry. He has also edited Chinese Writers on Writing, which has just been published by Trinity University Press.
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Gazing at a Red-Leafed Maple across a Ravine
 
 
Red oak and splotched orange maple leaves—
we hike to where water, running through a hole
in the rock, cascades into a pool that flows
out in a stream. Back at work, alone,
Ray gashes his third and fourth fingers
at a table saw, drives himself to the ER,
while blood seeps through his shirt torn
into a makeshift bandage. We yearn for a path
that is not a path, a point brimming with plankton,
sea urchins among rocks as the tide breaks
into foam. If we had hiked to the waterfall
and returned without subsequent incident,
we would have become, in memory, viewers
gazing at a red-leafed maple across a ravine,
bathed in equanimity as red leaf after red leaf
shot out of nowhere to become a sizzling star;
but now we ache at the chasm separating us
from the branch’s shower. And we lean back
from a precipice, even as we scrape mud
off our shoes before stepping into the lit kitchen.
 

 
 
                                    Windows and Mirrors
 
 
Ladybug moving along a cast-iron chair—
translucent pink of a budding lotus
in the pond—you slide along
a botanical wall, recall someone
 
who stammered to avoid the army
and then could not undo his stutter.
A wasp lays eggs in a tarantula;
a gecko slips under the outdoor grill.
 
You bite into a deep-fried scorpion
on a skewer: when your father reached
for the inhaler, your mother
stopped breathing. Iridescent green
 
butterflies pinned to the wall—
a rainbow passing across an island—
striding past ants on a bougainvillea,
you find windows and mirrors
 
in the refractive index of time.
Tracks of clothes on the floor—
white plumeria on the grass—
hatched wasps consume the tarantula.
 
 
 
 
Arthur Sze photo by Graham