Featured Poetry: Mingpei Li

Mingpei Li - photo

Zero

Mingpei Li

the zero at the start of every foreign number he jots down,
there isn’t the right participle to call it.
and so, i do not call it.

i watch a plane take off. when replayed in loop & reverse
(reverse & loop),
what i think i see is subduction, the earth rising up

to pull it back down, the plane struggling for air. beware,
this is subduction not due to a rift (that is to come,
the swallowing whole of something that already

has a contour, that supports ecosystems), but demanded
by gravity and an ache for escape velocity:
what the plane is taking off from.

but my loop & reverse is a mistake of interpretation, a perspective
problem, choosing to watch from the ground and looking up,
                / not choosing to look out from the vehicle of departure,

like standing on the platform squinting at the heart-shaped
fingers pressed against the window sliding away and growing small,
             / not admiring the surreal pleasure of moving pillars and concrete,

or watching a glint of light wrap around the rails and zip in
from the tunnel, rounding a corner,
             / not feeling the jolt as the subway reaches into the station.

my loop & reverse – that yarn about subduction – also
mistakes facts. air is a fluid like any other, and he
doesn’t need any or to be aloft, to pull off his feats.

everyone knows staying is a way of saying, being left,
it renames a state of having been done to.
            / instead, take the things you want to be said about you

and start walking –
a task for which you
will find you are not unequal.

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