Trudging uphill, I turn onto a deer path
then follow the switchbacks you marked
with orange streamers until I arrive
at a cairn and overlook where I view
the gold run of cottonwoods through the city;
western tanagers migrate through the city.
As I bask in the heat of the afternoon,
I cannot say I had the courage
to march on a bridge for the right
to vote and be beaten; at an antiwar rally,
I retreated when police, mounted on horses,
crossed the street with batons swinging.
As I stride down the switchbacks, I can’t
put into words the radiance of this day;
I stop at a robin’s nest lined with mud
fallen in the grass and scintillate
when at night we step into the yard
and stare up through apple branches at stars.
Poet, translator, and editor Arthur Sze is the author of ten books of poetry: Sight Lines; Compass Rose; The Ginkgo Light; Quipu; The Redshifting Web: Poems 1970-1998; Archipelago; River River; Dazzled; Two Ravens; The Willow Wind, and The Glass Constellation: New and Collected Poems, which includes "Blackcap," ((first published in Big Other). He is also a celebrated translator from the Chinese, and released The Silk Dragon: Translations from the Chinese. He is a professor emeritus at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and was the first poet laureate of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives.