Stephen Haven


All China a green-gold row of them.
When you walk through—
delicate, skirted, light-limbed

and yellow, swishing their loveliness
in the wind ⁠— they brush
the whole of you.

The Han are awfully dark
to love such hair: one single tree
the parasol of thousands

of years of poetry.
It is essentially
a pastoral tradition, a light

gesture in a concrete sea⁠—
this park, these willows,
these bamboo growing near,

as if forever curtained
beneath these trees
Li Bai still sprung

pure passion from a flush of wine.
And if you listen
you can almost hear him:

bamboo, bamboo, the green shoots
of earth, heaven when they brush
these yellow skirts!