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.
“Circumference” from THE GLASS CONSTELLATION: NEW & COLLECTED POEMS by Arthur Sze.
Published by Copper Canyon Press April 2021
Copyright © 2021 by Arthur Sze.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
“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