Arthur Sze

Issue #
March 24, 2019

Black Center

Green tips of tulips are rising out of the earth—
you don’t flense a whale or fire at beer cans

in an arroyo but catch the budding
tips of pear branches and wonder what

it’s like to live along a purling edge of spring.
Jefferson once tried to assemble a mastodon

skeleton on the White House floor but,
with pieces missing, failed to sequence the bones;

when the last speaker of a language dies,
a hue vanishes from the spectrum of visible light.

Last night, you sped past revolving and flashing
red, blue, and white lights along the road—

a wildfire in the dark; though no one
you knew was taken in the midnight ambulance,

an arrow struck a bull’s-eye and quivered
in its shaft: one minute gratitude rises

like water from an underground lake;
another, dissolution gnaws from a black center.

Previously published in Ploughshares.

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