The River in Our Blood Wang Ping


Wang Ping is a Chinese-American author and academic. Her writings center around the past and present of China, and the experiences of Chinese immigrants who live in America. She is currently an Associate Professor of English at Macalester, and teaches courses in creative writing and poetry. Wang has been the recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the New York State Council for the Arts for poetry, the Minnesota State Arts Board for fiction, Bush Foundation for the Arts (poetry), McKnight Fellowship for creative non-fiction, Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa, Vermont Studio Center residency. Wang Ping's "The River in Our Blood: A Sonnet Crown," will be presented in installments over the winter.



The River in Our Blood

A Sonnet Crown

By Wang Ping




The geese are painting the sky with a V, my lord

The Mississippi laughs with its white teeth

How fast winter flees from the lowland, my lord

And how’s the highland where songs forever seethe?


At the confluence, I sing of the prairie, my lord

My joy and sorrow soar with rolling spring

Its thunder half bird, half mermaid, my lord

No poppies on hills, only ghost warriors’ calling


Today is chunfeng—share of spring, my lord

Two spirits, one on phoenix wings, one on lion’s seat

Across the sea, kindred spirits, my lord

Prayer through breaths, laughing children on the street



Let’s open our gift, acorn of small things

Let river move us without wants or needs 





for Robert Bjorgum


Let river move us without wants or needs 

Let cycads carry their fruit in naked seeds


No flower to adorn your heart, roots pulling

Food from sand, stones. What magic in your seed


White flesh burns the nerves of the ignorant

What desire or love wedged in your coned seed?


Along colored veins—Age of Cycads—rings

Of truths. In your dried palm, an open seed


Naked to sun and moon, herbivores’ teeth carry

You across the chasm. In the crown, a seed


Running from pole to pole—the Sea was one

Body, unhinged, spewing lava into your seed


You’re not shadows from Permian of China

Look at this beauty–so simple in your agate seed





Look at this beauty-so simple in your agate seed

A blue jay calls from the river’s blue mouth

What runs from a roof, flows to the East Sea?

What winds towards north, then spills into South?


Last night on the highland, snow and rain

Winter’s muddy feet drag behind spring's fawn

In the valley, sounds of a whooping crane

A wheel barrow, copper etched by the dawn


The river has broken the rein of ice

Taking boulders, trees, teeth of dams…swirling

To the waists of cottonwoods, oaks, grilles, spice

Who can stop her riding on eagles’ wings?


Truth can’t be drowned in books or winner’s lie

Moon on river’s bend, long day of mayfly