Still, in the cruelty of the telling
the landscape is transfixed.

1.05 At Home in the Sky 


Not knowing your gender, you are thrown
across eight windows, open, and I imagine
the feeling of air. Brimming in light,
your ordinary hat and arm thrusting forth
a microphone toward the sun. How do you do, sun?
Its black rods swing through the levitating logic.
I’m behind your back holding the overgrowing
darkness, lines, the chalky extent of room. Only
here: the house of knapsack with first lining
of winter. Some clothes. Peering in or peeled back,
you listen and don’t want to talk. No one knows
where you live, but I do.


The most difficult part of this process was being faithful to the idea of not altering the original piece. I found myself moving towards ekphrasis as a starting point to stay true to the piece itself, but the translation required me to contend with why I write poetry: to say something I would truly want in perpetuity, even if it is nothing. I could not ignore myself as the onlooker, and so I stayed faithful to that, too, and so gave up purity, which isn't much of an idea I really believe in anyway.


Yanyi is a poet and critic. In 2018, he won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, awarded by Carl Phillips, for his first book, The Year of Blue Water (Yale University Press 2019). Currently, he is an associate editor at Foundry and an MFA candidate at New York University. He formerly served as Director of Technology and Design at The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, senior editor at Nat. Brut, and curatorial assistant at The Poetry Project. He is the recipient of fellowships from Asian American Writers Workshop and Poets House. Find his recent work in LA Review of Books, VIDA, and Memorious.

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