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Sonnet of the Seven Chinese

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The Augsburg poet once said he had tacked   
an image of the Man of Doubt   
to the wall of his room. A Chinese print.   
The image asked: how ought one to act?   

I have a photo on my wall. Twenty years ago   
seven Chinese workers looked into my lens.   
They look wary or ironic or tense.   
They know I do not write for them. I know   

they didn’t live for me. Yet sometimes I feel   
I’m being asked for more candid words,   
more credible deeds, by their doubtfulness.   

In turn I ask their help in making visible   
the contradictions and identities among us.   
If there’s a point, it’s this.

Source: Poetry (April 2009)

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

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Sonnet of the Seven Chinese

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