Talisman

Quetzal: you write
       the word on a sheet of paper
              then erase it;

each word, a talisman,
       leaves a track: a magpie
              struts across a portal

and vanishes from sight;
       when you bite into sea urchin,
              ocean currents burst

in your mouth; and when
       you turn, gaze at the white shutters
              to the house,

up the canyon, a rainbow
       arcs into clouds;
              expectancies, fears, yearnings—

hardly bits of colored glass
       revolving in a kaleidoscope:
              mist rising from a hot spring

along a river; suddenly
       you are walking toward Trinity Site
              looking for glass

and counting minutes
       of exposure under the sun;
              suddenly small things ignite.
Arthur Sze’s books of poetry include
Compass Rose (Copper Canyon, 2014), The Ginkgo Light,
Quipu, and The Redshifting Web.
A professor emeritus at the Institute of American Indian
Arts, as well as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets,
he lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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