Río Chamita

Mule deer browse in the meadow
                           and meander in clusters down the slope 
                                         across a dry pond bed;

at a shooting range, we stare at a machine 
               loaded with orange-centered circular targets

                                          but are not here to practice firing at ducks;

you climb a metal ladder, sit 
             on a bench high in a ponderosa pine, 

                          and, gazing far, say hunters shoot from here;

we step onto a floating dock, while swallows 
                           scissor the air, loop back, 

                                        fuchsia-streaked clouds undulate on the water;

and when we canoed around a floating island of reeds,
              I understood we came here  
                                          to ignite behind our eyelids—

a yellow-headed blackbird perches on a cattail;
                                         beyond a green metal fence, buffalo graze—

while water runs into this pond, before it spills 
                             over a metal gate into the Río Chamita,

                                                                 we gather our lives in this pooling—

Originally published in Michigan Quarterly Review Online. Copyright © 2021 by Arthur Sze. Used with the permission of the poet.