Anthem at Morning
How wonderful it would be
in this brightest of mornings
to walk in the clear light
not of possibility
but purpose and to sing
in that same clear light
of the purpose that
in all possibility is today.
Its doors are winter coats, dressed for the season
like dumpling wrappers: the snapped dough
rolled in wafer rounds, deft hands cupping
pork mince and scallion into ear-nipped jiaozi.
Ahead, river trout squirm on wet marble
like sprung bows as fresh as a definition,
flipping alongside crates of blue crab;
and, fresher still, whole tanks of catfish
plucked from the water in barely a cleaver’s drop.
I intone in snail Mandarin the prices of eggs,
pork belly, mutton, counting change in the abacus
of a new speech and would like to say more:
something about the colours of the aubergines,
the less recognized fruits, the tastes of them.
[Note: jiaozi are Beijing dumplings, pronounced for an English speaker, roughly, as ‘jow-sir’]
Edward Ragg was born in Stockton-on-Tees in 1976 and, since 2007, has lived in Beijing, China. He won the 2012 Cinnamon Press Poetry Award and his first collection of poetry is A Force That Takes (Cinnamon Press, 2013).
Selections from his work are anthologized in the 2014 Forward Book of Poetry (Faber & Faber, 2013), Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam (Eyewear Publishing/Cinnamon Press, 2012), Jericho & Other Stories & Poems (Cinnamon Press, 2012), Visiting Wallace: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Wallace Stevens (Iowa University Press, 2009) and New Poetries IV (Carcanet Press, 2007).
Ragg’s poems have also appeared in Aesthetica, Acumen, Agenda, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Cordite Poetry Review, Critical Quarterly, Envoi, Orbis, Other Poetry, Papercuts, Poetry Quarterly, PN Review, Seam, The New Writer, Three Line Poetry and other journals.
Ragg is also a critic: author of Wallace Stevens and the Aesthetics of Abstraction (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and co-editor of Wallace Stevens across the Atlantic (Palgrave, 2008). He is currently an Associate Professor in English at Tsinghua University and is co-founder, with his wife Fongyee Walker, of Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting.