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In the northwoods, the serene pulse of the lake greets
buds and pollen falling under pines while bees hum  
praise from sunrise until dusk in this place of trees,
a century and a half old in coniferous years: annular

rings of spruce and cedar, the scotch and pitch, the fir,
blue junipers shadowed by hemlock and tamarack. 
A long lake gleams through the keen boughs of trees
on the shore. A late sun bleeds like a fish in the forest.

Our dwellings are named for springs in the scriptures:
the seventy palm-date trees and twelve springs of Elim,
the fountain of a goat-kid called Engedi, the healing pool
of Bethesda, and waters from the psalms, living and still.

What do mosses say of their miniature hills in midsummer
and frigid, sporeless winters, those icy foliations of silence    
in these years of rage and reckoning? Why do we whipsaw
the world with wars and epidemics when a mountain ash

and tall maple tell us we are nothing but souls adrift,
our salvation quickened like quartz clockwork wound
by God’s hand, or surely changed by the dropping glow   
of a cold front moving over the lake? The evening wind

whistles like a wood flute in my left ear. I ask, what is a sign,
and if so, is God chortling in a flock of loons under the moon
pulling the human tides of moods? This pulse of the lake
floods lightly by comparison, than the dark lake rock huddled

together under forest turf, and the fractured, mineral base
under a tangled fringe of liverwort rosettes and mosses,
or those fat spots of honey tucked in a faraway, desert cleft
by bees who hum their witness: God is here, this is good.

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.