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[Throughout 2018, we have committed to publishing a selection of poems from each month of Ian Boyden’s manuscript “A Forest of Names.” Over the course of a year, Boyden translated the 5,196 names of schoolchildren crushed in the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. He then began a collection of poems, each written on the day of each child’s birth. An in-depth discussion of these poems can be read in “Fault Line: An Introduction to A Forest of Names.” —Eds.]
Detail from the installation of Ai Weiwei: Fault Line (2016). Photograph by Ian Boyden.
There, where moonlight spills
across a handful of ash.
He stood on his head,
and to his astonishment
watched the clouds ripening
like fields of grain.
Once finished with the trunk,
the brush dances side to side.
An infinity of black
from the heart
of a burning pine.
A carving of light,
a hewn moon,
a heart suspended
between two shores.
Once lost to centuries of ice,
the seeds split stones and called out
toward the sun and moon,
and so laced a tapestry
of impenetrable shadow.
Ink spilled from where she split the world in two,
wrote its fluid song whispering
of days filled with love.
Your whole life unfolds in the silence after lightning’s flash.
What sprouts from the thunder?
Book of Solar Luminosity
Once bound, the book
could never be held,
could never be read,
what it offered
was the light
of its own transformation.
Every time his name was uttered,
a tree burst into flame.
Words bubble forth from the deep.
Which ones change our hearts?
Which ones collapse a building?
The path blocked
by a curtain of flowers,
each flower a closed door
in the figure eight of infinity.
City of Endless Rain
walls, stone by brick,
to shelter us from forests of rain,
and centuries of forests devour the city,
its walls, leaf by root,
Read more from Ian Boyden’s “A Forest of Names” in the following links:
“Introduction to ‘A Forest of Names'”
A Forest of Names — January selections
A Forest of Names — March selections
A Forest of Names — April selections
A Forest of Names — May selections
A Forest of Names — June selections
A Forest of Names — July selections
A Forest of Names — September selections
A Forest of Names — October selections
A Forest of Names — November selections
A Forest of Names — December selections
“Fragile as an Urn: An Interview with Ian Boyden”
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