Circumference

Arthur Sze

Vanilla farmers in Madagascar sit in the dark with rifles;
                    at two a.m., after a thunderstorm,

I lurch down the hallway to check the oak floor
                    under a skylight, place a towel

in a pan. As if armed, waiting for a blue string
                    to trip a thief, I listen

in the hush at a point where ink flows out of a pen
                    onto a white Sahara of a page.

Adjusting the rearview mirror in the car before backing
                    out of the garage, I ask, What

is the logarithm of a dream? How do you trace a sphere
                    whose center is nowhere?

It is hard to believe farmers pollinate vanilla orchids
                    with toothpick-sized needles,

yet we do as needed; pouring syrup on a pancake,
                    I catch the scent of vines,

race along the circumference, sensing what it’s like to sit
                    in the dark with nothing in my hands.

 
To celebrate National Poetry Month we are again presenting an April Celebration: 30 Poets/30 Presses (#ArmchairBookFair21), a feature we initiated last year to help promote new releases whose publicity opportunities were thwarted due to the pandemic. Please join us every day for new poetry from the presses that sustain us.

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Arthur Sze is the author of Sight Lines, which was selected for the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry. His new book, The Glass Constellation: New and Collected Poems (Copper Canyon Press), will be released on April 13, 2021.

“The recognition was long overdue when Sze won the 2019 National Book Award for his previous book, Sight Lines. This 500-page, career spanning retrospective is a fitting follow up, allowing readers to take in the full breadth of what Sze has achieved over ten collections published since the early 1970s. There are so many kinds of poems here, and so many truly extraordinary ones… This book is an overwhelming feast, a treasure, and more than enough proof that Sze is a major poet.”
—Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR

“A monumental collection from a poet whose lasting importance should now be recognized; essential for dedicated readers of contemporary American poetry.”
Library Journal, starred review

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