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About this Poem 

“One day I unpacked a globe out of a cardboard box and looked at different locations on our planet. When I saw ‘Coral Sea,’ I stopped and thought of the Battle of the Coral Sea. The poem sprang out of that moment.”
Arthur Sze

Unpacking a Globe

I gaze at the Pacific and don’t expect
to ever see the heads on Easter Island,

though I guess at sunlight rippling
the yellow grasses sloping to shore;

yesterday a doe ate grass in the orchard:
it lifted its ears and stopped eating

when it sensed us watching from
a glass hallway—in his sleep, a veteran

sweats, defusing a land mine.
On the globe, I mark the Battle of

the Coral Sea—no one frets at that now.
A poem can never be too dark,

I nod and, staring at the Kenai, hear
ice breaking up along an inlet;

yesterday a coyote trotted across
my headlights and turned his head

but didn’t break stride; that’s how
I want to live on this planet:

alive to a rabbit at a glass door—
and flower where there is no flower.
 

Copyright © 2015 by Arthur Sze. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 10, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Arthur Sze. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 10, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Arthur Sze

Arthur Sze

Born in New York City in 1950, Arthur Sze is the author of nine books of poetry, including Compass Rose (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). He served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2012 to 2017.

by this poet

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The tide ebbs and reveals orange and purple sea stars. 
I have no theory of radiance, 

                but after rain evaporates 
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In the courtyard, we spot the rising shell of a moon,
and, at the equinox, bathe in its gleam. 

Using all the tides of starlight
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Here a snail on a wet leaf shivers and dreams of spring.
Here a green iris in December.
Here the topaz light of the sky.
Here one stops hearing a twig break and listens for deer.
Here the art of the ventriloquist.
Here the obsession of a kleptomaniac to steal red
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   The blue-black mountains are etched
   with ice. I drive south in fading light.
   The lights of my car set out before
   me, and disappear before my very eyes.
   And as I approach thirty, the distances
   are shorter than I guess? The mind
   travels at the speed of light. But for