Fall 1993 • Vol. XV No. 4 PoetryOctober 1, 1993 |

Oolong

1 Tea leaves wilted in sunlight are shaken and bruised so that the edges redden and veins turn transparent. A man at a counter eats boiled silkworms and coughs; a woman stops speaking and stares at the constellation Perseus. Once, a merchant smashed a black raku bowl when it failed to please a teamaster, but, glued back together, the black shards had the texture of mulberry leaves. You pass someone bowing talking on the telephone, and the shock is an incandescent quark leaving a spiraling track in the mind: you sense how, in a field guide, it is impossible to know the growth arc of a mushroom, but stumble upon shelves of oysters growing out of dead aspens and see how nothing in this world is yet yours. 2 True or false: termites release methane and add to the greenhouse effect; the skin of a blowfish is lethal; crosses along roads in Mexico mark vehicular deaths; the earth is flat; oysters at full moon contain hepatitis; no one has ever seen

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Arthur Sze’s latest book is The Glass Constellation: New and Collected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2021). He is the recipient of a 2022 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation and also of the 2021 Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. His expanded edition of translations of Chinese poetry, The Silk Dragon II, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in the spring of 2024.

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1 Tea leaves wilted in sunlight are shaken and bruised so that the edges redden and veins turn transparent. A man at a counter eats boiled silkworms and coughs; a […]

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1 Tea leaves wilted in sunlight are shaken and bruised so that the edges redden and veins turn transparent. A man at a counter eats boiled silkworms and coughs; a […]

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