The Color of China

Cameron Morse


Blue, blue is the grass about the river
And the willows have overfilled the close garden.

—Ezra Pound, in his translation, “The Beautiful Toilet”



The grass is blue about the river
that runs around my teacup, 
but so are the pagodas, footbridges, 
the fishermen and their sampans. 

The warped willows flourish their vines
like freshly dipped quills, dripping with blue
ink of the decal, a vortex
wrapped around the world, a whirlpool 

of porcelain, like a doll’s head
sawn off at the hairline, a coffee-stained
basin of bone. Believe me, 
I would tell you if the grass in Beijing 

were blue, but its roadside mange is
as white as the slender hand of the mistress
courtesan. Dump truck dust powders
every blade, and smog absconds

with the sun on so many winter days,
abandoning me to drown
my sorrows like her sot husband, returning
from his revels to find himself alone.


Cameron Morse taught and studied in China. Diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2014, he is currently an MFA candidate at UMKC and lives with his wife, Lili, in Blue Springs, Missouri. His poems have been or will be published in over 30 different magazines, including Otis NebulaThe Blackstone Review and TYPO. Visit his Facebook page for more information.

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