Earth’s dimming still
remains too darkly beautiful
not to drift into any lornsome
poet’s simple mind.

But if I ask myself,
the last glory of gates abandoned to rust
their iron at peace
why, three white petals of trillium

slowly ascending, or rotting to deep
purple in abandoned woodlots
may I not taste the grape
of what really happens?

Du Fu enters the conversation:

overhead a moon
and wilderness of stars

here and there
clouds and mist

this universe
is enormous.

my road goes on and on.*
But so does my road, somewhere.
Still, we may turn to each other,
uncork a bottle of wine

together and write together, my pen
Fu’s brush, define dimensions of roads
of peace and war and peace
some fatal day

At some closing far distant road
unpaved, at some end in fine mist
is stationed a carved ambo
behind which stoops

a grayly glowing old man
who is seen with a library rubber
stamp in one hand and a great
white feather quill in the other

keeping a cracked parchment
from rolling up, or trying, with both
gnarled elbows and who sorts through
the scattered papers of petitioners

and whom I bypass in favor of mortality—
most citizenry innocent as bobbing quail,
who shall remain immune to my intrusions
into the lure of timelessness

while my own good company
and I take flight for a quick final
approach—only toward, not to,
some ultimate Chengdu—

together we have
got a little tired
of all this socializing

being taken to see the vistas
didn’t address my problems

it’s clearly time to leave . . .
ravens call*

to us—

* Italicized lines from Du Fu, “Leaving Qinzhou” (David Young, trans.)

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.