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Say, how deep is the long lake, we asked a she-eagle
who rose above the water like a great kite or parasail

in the shape of a girl with wings. A fisherman says she
built her nest this summer on the shore of a lagoon   

where the lotus patch ends. She hunts on the perimeter,
dives with talons beyond the lotus roots, a crux of lilies

moored in dark, tangled wilderness beyond loosestrife,
crayfish, and a handful of mystery snails. She-eagle

is larger than the male. She shows her child how to dive
by dipping her talons in the water. Does she know

the depth of this long lake on the edge of the world
where voices echo around the bend like questions

behind a doubt, the wind sidling through a door?
So, it isn’t about the lake: our curiosity is about lack—

how we cannot see a thing all the way to the bottom.
It’s not a glass boat or sonar navigation. We stand up    

and walk to our knees, our shoulders, then our chins,
and stroke our way with bladed oars of fleshy bone  

swimming in their own inner seas. How far down—
up to thirty-one feet—yet we sing without sounding

what lies beneath. We fly without feathering air:
we float without seeing everything under the sun.

A she-eagle shares the fish she clasps in the wave
with her child and asks for nothing else, her mind

sealed from the world of metaphor and human
language as the water pours forth its glad speech,

inviting our she-eagle to ply the depths for perch—
with bold jubilance in praise of God’s provision. 

Karen An-Hwei Lee

Karen An-hwei Lee is the author of Rose is a Verb: Neo-Georgics (Slant 2021), Phyla of Joy (Tupelo 2012), Ardor (Tupelo 2008) and In Medias Res (Sarabande 2004)winner of the Norma Farber First Book Award. She authored two novels, Sonata in K (Ellipsis 2017) and The Maze of Transparencies (Ellipsis 2019). 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. Currently, she serves as the Provost at Wheaton College.