Two short poems, considering Qianwan

Qianwan, or On Looking Up Several Times to the Horizon While Reading

There is no shape of the tree
though we identify the tree by its shape
what I see in trees and steel sky
is patience and distance

Qianwan, or Some Thoughts at Ground Level

If river ice or puddle ice breaks
under the weight of the waning moon
what we’ll find beneath is the waning moon
can I love you any more fully beneath this sheath of being?

3 thoughts on “Two short poems, considering Qianwan

    1. Jeff Schwaner Post author

      Thanks Emily! According to an essay by Michelle Yeh I’m reading in The Poem Behind the Poem: Translating Asian Poetry, “qianwan” is a compound word in Chinese combining the characters for “a thousand” and “ten thousand” and in that form “refers to all the things in the world.” So these two short poems were an attempt to telescope out from the personal to the world and back again.


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