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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 Ai Weiwei: Fault Line. Foreground: marble replicas of twisted iron rebar pulled from one of the schools that collapsed in the Sichuan Earthquake (Rebar and Case, 2014). Background: the names of the 5,196 school children killed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Photograph by Ian Boyden.
It’s spring, and the names bloom with water.
The sun with its plow; the mind with its act.
What did he wear?
woven by wind
and dyed by light.
Our names stretch out like great nets.
We must give up our names to find that.
When her name left your lips,
a leek flower opened over dark water.
Even her name had a moon.
The urn shattered,
ten thousand questions scattered
in the stone dust.
But each in its own way asked,
are we still one?
Builder of Rivers
Let this page describe what I saw
in the Blue River,
the River of the Mountain People.
A black pattern emerged out of emptiness,
a name out of the silence
from which we were born.
The sun-reflecting river—
a tiger stripe through black earth.
sing within spring mountains:
dark flowers at the edge of ice.
Exposed, revealed, loved and betrayed.
Like nectar laid bare on a windless morning.
An accumulation of steps!
Our feet wet with dew.
The Ascent of Beauty
She climbs, each step like a quiet drum.
Antlers bleach among spring wildflowers.
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 — February selections
A Forest of Names — March selections
A Forest of Names — May selections
A Forest of Names — June selections
A Forest of Names — July selections
A Forest of Names — August 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”
« A Forest of Names (March) by Ian Boyden | Fault Line: An Introduction to A Forest of Names »