“Delta” by Arthur Bull

Arthur Bull


You stood up and walked away,
taking your coffee. I stayed
to finish mine, not smiling,
remembering that late flight
over the Mackenzie Delta:
Look down: ten thousand
streams, all contrarimindedness
and contradiction—each little river
its own thought or circumstance,
each one saying—I was here first
deal with me. You can try and count
them as they cut through the green
unknown of the summer tundra.
No one has ever done it.
I know you have entered me
to the farthest blue capillary.
All you need to know is this:
The mighty Mackenzie River
flows into the Arctic Ocean.
It has nowhere else to go.

from Rattle #35, Summer 2011
Tribute to Canadian Poets


Arthur Bull: “Chinese poetry has been my first and constant inspiration to write. In university, after reading translations by Bynner, Snyder, and Rexroth, I switched my major from classics to East Asian Studies. Years later, the very first poem I got published was Wang Zhihuan’s ‘Climbing Crane Tower,’ which I learned later, to my embarrassment, is one of the most famous and often translated of all classical Chinese poems. Many years later on my first trip to China I rediscovered this inspiration standing and looking at the same rivers and mountains of those poems, like returning to the home of an old friend.”

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