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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