“Comet Hyakutake” by Arthur Sze

Comet Hyakutake’s tail stretches for 360 million miles—

in 1996, we saw Hyakutake through binoculars—

the ion tail contains the time we saw bats emerge out of a cavern at dusk—

in the cavern, we first heard stalactites dripping—

first silence, then reverberating sound—

our touch reverberates and makes a blossoming track—

a comet’s nucleus emits X-rays and leaves tracks—

two thousand miles away, you box up books and, in two days, will step through the invisible rays of an airport scanner—

we write on invisible pages in an invisible book with invisible ink—

in nature’s book, we read a few pages—

in the sky, we read the ion tracks from the orchard—

the apple orchard where blossoms unfold, where we unfold—

budding, the child who writes, “the puzzle comes to life”—

elated, puzzled, shocked, dismayed, confident, loving: minutes to an hour—

a minute, a pinhole lens through which light passes—

Comet Hyakutake will not pass earth for another 100,000 years—

no matter, ardor is here—

and to the writer of fragments, each fragment is a whole—

Arthur SzeArthur Sze is the author of nine books of poetry, including The Ginkgo Light (2009), Quipu (2005), The Silk Dragon: Translations from the Chinese (2001), and The Redshifting Web: Poems 1970-1998 (1998), all from Copper Canyon Press. He is also the editor of Chinese Writers on Writing (forthcoming from Trinity University Press in 2010). His poems have been translated into Albanian, Bosnian, Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Romanian, Spanish, and Turkish. He is a professor emeritus at the Institute of American Indian Arts and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he served, from 2006-2008, as the city’s first poet laureate.