Mamang Dai, one of my favourite poets writing in English today. Often deceptively serene, Dai uses the natural in unusual ways, as the poem, 'Sky Song' demonstrates. Reproduced here with her permission.
The evening is the greatest medicine maker
testing the symptoms
of breath and demise,
In the changing script
of a cloud's wishbone rib,
in the expanding body of the sky.
We left the tall trees standing.
We left the children playing.
We left the women talking
and men were predicting
good harvests or bad,
that winged summer we left,
racing with the leopards of morning.
I do not know how we bore the years.
By ancient, arched gates
I thought I saw you waving,
in greeting or farewell, I could not tell;
when summer changed hands again
only the eastern sky remained;
One morning, flowering peoniess
welled my heart with regret.
Summer's bitter pill was a portion of sky
like a bird's wing, altering design.
A race of fireflies bargaining with the night.
Attachment is a gift of time, I know,
the evening's potion provides
heaven's alchemy in chromosomes of light,
lighting cloud fires
in thumbprints of the sky.