Alba: The Archer Yi
By Brandon Som
Because we are helpless in the affairs
of heaven, we place feathers on arrows.
By dowel, the nock's groove against
its bowstring, the arrow by bird's wing
by archer's sight, by aim, superimposing
what is in hand over what is distant,
we arrive at certain conclusions, the end
of this tale for example: after blight
and the consequent famine, nine of ten
suns fell as dark crows. Of the ways
it is told, there's the account of the emperor,
as the ninth sun lay writhing—dark blood
on dark feathers—placing his hand on
the archer's shoulder, so the slung bow
was lowered, a discretion the story would
have us believe, that is, finally, this sun,
this light, still with its obsession to travel
while we go on living in its obstruction,
even now, this morning, your shoulder white
as scrimshaw, drawing the light to its fletching.
Copyright 2006 by Brandon Som. Used by permission of the poet.