Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Doug Anderson's Xin Loi

So tonight I leaned over to my wrought iron bookcase, the one I found abandoned on 14th and 7th and carted home by bus, the one holding favorites, and took The Moon Reflected Fire by Doug Anderson.

Anderson's Goya series, Les Desastres de la Guerra,  is exquisite as the drawings of reference. Every poem in the collection is furiously intelligent, observant, lovely, stuck in the heart's throat; poems of war, Homer, Vietnam; declarations of the universal.

"Xin Loi" is in Part I, a section needing no name. All is in the poem, as it should be.

Xin Loi

The man and woman, Vietnamese,
come up the hill,
carry something slung between them on a bamboo mat,
unroll it at my feet:
the child, iron gray, long dead,
the flies have made him home.
His wounds are from artillery shrapnel.
The man and the woman look as if they are cast
from the same iron as their dead son,
so rooted are they in the mud.
There is nothing to say,
nothing in my medical bag, nothing in my mind.
A monsoon cloud hangs above,
its belly torn open on a mountain.

Doug Anderson, The Moon Reflected Fire (Alice James Books)

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