Sunday, May 06, 2007

Letters to One Who May or May Not Be in Jiangsu Province

Henrys, Margarets and Sophias, one grave
marked Theodore. Before the noisy rustle,
a fall in choral suite, I did not know this rasp.
How my voice would go as you have gone. So soon.

Or where, which latitude—or was it north
to south? Now excavating, my planchettes
—a shovel, a brush and pen—point
east to China seas. Through the core,

I dig. Exhume ash and old woods petrified.
Along the banks of Qin Huai the forests
grow lush though blue amid a hapless stirring.
My trowel brushes a desiccated

onion, a skin. I quarry the red heart
and spade toward this or another day.
Kneeling low, feet almost shy and propped
in tidy furrows, I write of famine—

on the page’s throat, on a parched fold.
When you see the mulch crumble in the light, look
for the mute who bears a foot, a palm, a conch
as offering. Like the woman in Jiangsu who listens,

an ear to the earth, this shell holds the other
chamber, where green sounds shush east and west.
Between, the lines criss-cross, invigilate
which way, on what meridian we rest.

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