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Wang Xiuying

Two PoemsRuth Padel
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The Two-Handled Jug

A low-flying stork. Two acres of graves,
guarded and layered in rose-pink. Walls, city, dust.

We have been here for ever. Anonymous
pinchpenny plague tombs from medieval centuries.

Bronze epitaphs in French, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic.
Fathers and children, fathers and wives.

The Jewish Cemetery, Marrakesh. A visitor,
wearing the guard’s black velvet kippah,

wanders, takes notes, then washes his hands
in a marble trough by the ten-foot gate.

Swallows, just arrived in Africa, write
new calligraphy in a haze of cold spring sky.

Breathing Hebrew to himself, he pours
water, two delicate glass stamens from a copper cup,

over his girlfriend’s fingers. A prayer
she is too shy to ask him about.

Lone Ranger

When all this is over, said the princess, this
bothersome Growing Up, I’ll live with wild horses.
I want to race tumbleweed blowing down a canyon
in Wyoming, dip my muzzle in a mountain tarn.

I intend to learn the trails of Ishmael and Astarte
beyond blue ridges where no one can get me,
find a bird with a pearl in it, heavy as ten copper coins,
track the luminous red wind that brings thunder
and go where ripples on new grass shimmer
in a hidden valley only I shall know. I want to see

autumn swarms of Monarch butterflies, saffron,
primrose, honey-brown, in purple skies
on their way to the Gulf. And gold coin on the faces
of Ocean, calling all migrants home.

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