‘Man on a Cloisonné Vase’
By Tom Sexton
When I was still a boy with two good
legs, the emperor’s men snatched me
from my parent’s yard and sent me
to the distant frontier to fight.
An old man now, I sit unnoticed
by a small pond waiting for the tip
of my bamboo rod to quiver.
I’ll catch a carp my wife can carry home.
My last living son is on the frontier now.
It’s whispered that the barbarians
are more numerous than the stars.
Night after night boots on the road,
conscripts marching toward the frontier.
They must come home by another road.