Inside, by Xi ChuanLucas Klein

Sign in to access Harper’s Magazine

Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?

  1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
  2. Select Email/Password Information.
  3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.

Locked out of your account? Get help here.

Subscribers can find additional help here.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!

Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
Subscribe for Full Access
Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.

From Bloom & Other Poems, which was published in July by New Directions. Translated from the Chinese.

inside stone is stone and the memory of plate tectonics
inside brick is brick and the memory or forgetting of fire

flower the blooming flower has no inside just as in rain there is no inside
but inside seed are the four seasons, the desire for growth

inside the fly is flesh and blood I do not know
inside the chicken are organs blood vessels flesh and bones plus a dullness of the
       spirit

inside each human is either a mouse or a dragon
inside each human is either a village or else a pool of piss and a pile of shit

inside each human is darkness, obviously—there’s no starlight
everybody’s dreams gradually disappear inside them

inside a group of people there are people and inside a group of people are
       mountains and valleys
inside a group of people there didn’t used to be but now there is a bank

inside the bank is a branch president who sometimes ends up
a prisoner a teacher an actor a commander

but inside the cell is a universe that did not originate in an explosion
while inside the virus is a cackling demon

just as inside human disaster is scheming is misjudgment is foolishness
or inside breath is panic is sorrow is death


More from