In Their Own Words

Fiona Sze-Lorrain's “Towering”

Fiona Sze-Lorrain author photo


Are you interested in stealing
instincts? Or in explaining
secrets of a world
that rules with age and equidistance?

Layer by layer, wind
seeks a message,
a voice for Fate. The sun,
its seas,
even birds in passing,
dictate science at the bidding of will.
An existence
unaffected by seasons.

So much about an unfathomable life.
A round universe with plans for tomorrow,
never its final word.

I can't speak for accidents elsewhere,
only forms, lines—
thoughts stretching to dialogue
on charts or water.
Believe me,
answers are small

even if one day you travel
in light years,
even when light becomes endless
as a star dies, another
emerges, in astonishment
and for no reason.

The Ruined Elegance: Poems by Fiona Sze-Lorrain as part of the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets. © 2016 by Princeton University Press. Reprinted by permission.

On "Towering"

I have always been intrigued by ancient Greek cosmological views, in particular the apeiron. In a cosmic infinity, what exists at random and what survives by error? Is the idea of a cosmic infinity still relevant to a human sense of self—can it help us to confront our present-day violence?

Wislawa Szymborska has this to say: Life is picky and demands a mixture of highly specific conditions; we've found their fulfillment on our planet and nowhere else so far. Which doesn't mean that among all the billions and billions of stars there's no chance of a similiar combination. The grande dame of poetry wrote these when reviewing a book by Polish scientist Olgierd Wolczek, Man and Others Out There (1983), and she entitled her short piece "Cosmic Solitude."

Cosmic solitude and earthly revelation.

As I write, I realize how much my poem counts on stars—their unpredictable luminosity, a chance in each to outlive its own time. Like a mortal heart, throbbing so fast, so wildly hard.

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