“When a juggler tosses seven balls in the air, the juggler and the continuous motion of the balls becomes a vehicle to explore philosophical issues, so that ‘when to hurl and when to catch’ is much more than surface appearance. ‘Juggler’ is an arresting poem that
explores implications of motion and emotion, isolation and connection, and, in Kristine Ong
Muslim’s lean translation, the stillness at the end reverberates.” —Arthur Sze
Swapping seven balls with his palm,
and with air. Precision inhabits the gap
between the ball’s trajectory and its anticipated
pace at the brink of hesitation—
the arc of descent. How does one grasp making
sense of timing when to hurl and when to catch?
Is it when one rehearses alone or when one rehearses
being alone? Which one holds
when there is no break from motion,
and from emotion? They thought, he makes gravity.
Then in a blink of an eye, oh! the balls are dropped.
They have yet to stop holding their breath.
© Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Kristine Ong Muslim. All rights reserved.