“Among Spruce”

A Poem by Arthur Sze

Before glimpsing outlines of whorled branches,
you smell spruce needles, know gophers lie

in tunnels below ground and sense their tracks.
You can’t measure the background tracks

of the big bang but believe in finding what
is needed when you must. A sea captain

brewed spruce beer during a voyage and rescued
his crew from scurvy; a famished hiker

consumed spruce needles and emerged out
of the forest. In the darkest minutes before dawn,

you won’t ever live to experience pure silence
but were never a composer yearning

for that nirvana. Standing in the cusp of cold,
you hunger for a hummingbird darting from scarlet

penstemon to penstemon in midsummer,
for a shearwater skimming over ocean waves;

now, in this dissolving darkness, you strike
a match and cup this second of warmth, this flame.

Arthur Sze
Arthur Sze
Arthur Sze’s tenth book of poetry, Sight Lines, received the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry. His new and collected poems, The Glass Constellation, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in April 2021.

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