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Sport 25: Spring 2000

Diary: September 20-21

page 108

Diary: September 20-21

It was the day Wu Mei placed an orchid
in the neck of a tall vase scrolled all over with
peony and set it, petal—thin and fragile as
any old culture, against the light.

Five days before, alert to the sound of a bell
humming not so far down in the earth's crust,
jarring small animals into flight, both dogs
had hunched heads back on shoulders
and—aiming muzzles at the sky above the yard—
howled out their own proleptic poem.
That was the day my daughter left.
We three smothered the omen.

Like a giant shout rebounding off mountains
and the rims of reservoirs, a volume rolling from side
to side of a bowl mouth, the earth lurches.
We are rocked together in the arms of a rapist high
on his own momentum, oblivious to us, the small ones,
who crouch under tables, hug door jambs—
only the children do this naturally—run from
our lives' detail our into unsafe streets.

page 109

The next morning, as I have heard the bible say,
a darkness hung over the earth. Bloated,
yellow-gray. I could not see to read.
There is no going down to the city.
I would like to dig alongside other hands
and with our common hands reach for those
still there in the dirt. For me, the marred
and the mutilated are all imagined.

With the return of light the stories come, collide—
prop each other up. The doctor's son is saved,
though his army barracks topples on its face.
One of Wu Mei's sons has lost his restaurant and his home.
In downtown Taipei, a New Zealand girl takes a bottle
of wine into a park and drinks through the night
with friends, like any Chinese poet. She is laughing,
high on aftershock, when the phone cuts out.

By late afternoon candles begin their slow
twist in front of mirrors. Hymns.
Flames in leaf boats
set loose on the quiet Ganges,
every one a soul.
1,700 new-made ghosts (the BBC)
and more to come.
The new battlefields.