DEAR MILLENNIUM, POST-UTOPIA
from Uproot: A Literary Journal
Once we ate oranges navel-first, blossom-end
in flickering orchard light, a spring rainstorm –
sinkhole of fallenness where an underground
cenote raged, dissolving our quicklime bones,
the first paradise. Post-utopia topiary without –
do not fret about class, neither the one percent
nor the ninety-nine. Now we all live in poverty.
In our former lives, the word post did not exist.
Nightly, we used to fish pearls out of aquariums
miraculously filled by God’s wheeling ophanim,
on the fire-wings of seraphs, the burning ones.
Post-utopia, we gather a thousand fragments
out of a vexed universe in this life, at this time –
post-utopia, love exists in a vacuum, if it exists
in the dirt of nervous chaos tainted by toxic atoms
of arsenic, cesium, loss –
where we cannot say starlings or oranges
once winged the air
after dark – now and forever,
Karen An-hwei Lee will feature at Poetry & Art at SDAI on Sept. 21. Click for more info.
Karen An-hwei Lee is the author of Phyla of Joy (Tupelo 2012), Ardor (Tupelo 2008) and In Medias Res (Sarabande 2004), winner of the Norma Farber First Book Award. She authored a novel, Sonata in K (Ellipsis 2017). Lee’s translations of Li Qingzhao’s writing, Doubled Radiance: Poetry & Prose of Li Qingzhao, is the first volume in English to collect Li’s work in both genres (Singing Bone 2018). Her book of literary criticism, Anglophone Literatures in the Asian Diaspora: Literary Transnationalism and Translingual Migrations (Cambria 2013), was selected for the Cambria Sinophone World Series. She earned an M.F.A. from Brown University and Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Currently, she lives in San Diego, where she serves in the university administration at Point Loma Nazarene University.