On Hypnosis, Unscripted
A shaman finds out his vehicle can’t move like a man—windows grow breasts, curtains scream for attention.
Nothing happens, but the room sweetens its bones.
A bronze floor lamp, two bar tables, five oiled chairs in one circle: a party of ghost babies laugh with life-size cats.
The Scope of Darkness
The cave wheels to me when the animal breathes. Chipped by hands that would have taken food by force, the spirit has traded bread with its own image. Three-legged, not in its elements, clawed between a cross-sectioned star and two fish. Don’t believe too much in the petroglyph, unless you know how to deal with its relief. The voice never gives up reading into the human psyche. Any covenant with this quiet depends on the land—stark, flat, ossified; mesa to mesa, the hallowed reach of a wingspread. Too orange, too direct. The albino sun isn’t blindfolded. To survive, how can anything or anyone be loved enough? Indifference isn’t prehistoric: we need to look harder and act by facts. Even in the woods, far from each desert, people are simply afraid of the dark.
The Difficult Mirror
Write at a distance the idea
of flesh that slowly
eclipses the taste of it
of flesh that slowly eclipses
the taste of an idea
Write at a distance
Fiona Sze-Lorrain is a poet, literary translator, editor, and zheng harpist who writes and translates in English, French, Chinese, and occasionally Spanish. The author of four books of poetry: Water the Moon (2010), My Funeral Gondola (2013), and more recently The Ruined Elegance (2016) and Rain in Plural (2020), both from Princeton University Press, Sze-Lorrain has translated more than a dozen volumes of contemporary Chinese-language, French, and American poets, and guest/coedited three anthologies of international literature. She works as an editor at Vif Éditions, an independent press based in Paris. As a zheng harpist, she has performed worldwide. She lives in France.