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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 12: March 2022
Poem: 172 words
By Dianna Henning

After Li Po’s “The River Merchant’s Wife”

When my hair was auburn, 
we picked oranges from our tree in Sacramento. 
You played giraffe, 
circled the tree with your orange picker. 
And we went on living together, 
two friends held in the blessing of trust. 
You seldom angered, 
held to a peaceful countenance. 

At forty-four, I dreamt of our burial plots, 
your head resting next to mine. 
Why should I look elsewhere? 

Barely forty-five, you were given military orders. 
You traveled far into the country of burning buildings. 
You have been gone over a year. 
Two mourning doves coo near our potting shed. 
You’d fumbled with your buttons before you left. 

Weeds by the front gate choke our flower bed, 
too many to pull out by hand. October’s 
leaves fall early this year. Monarchs 
are already at the Monterey Coast, some 
as far as Mexico. I grow melancholy. 

When you return, write me beforehand 
and I’ll rush to the Delta to meet you 
by Lee’s rice fields where we first met. 



Publisher’s Note:

“The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter” by Ezra Pound is based on the first of Li Po’s “Two Letters from Chang-Kan.”

Dianna Henning
Issue 12, March 2022

lives with her husband and their Samoyed on six acres in a forest of oaks and ponderosa pines in Lassen County, California, where they enjoy the solitude and beauty. Soon after moving to Lassen County, Dianna founded The Thompson Peak Writers’ Workshop, which has been going for twenty-six years. As she says, “The work by others inspires me to be my very best writer.”

For more information, see Brief Bio at the author’s website:

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