The Detective’s Chair (6) by Anne M. Carson

Comrade Chief Inspector Chen Cao
Shanghai Police, China

Comrade Chen is permeable to poetry. Ineffable feelings assail him—the waft, the glimpse—how poems unfold is how crimes. Self-professed romantic, he wishes poetic justice upon crimes. 1990s; Shanghai teeters between an open door and fear of the bourgeois West. Lit major, published modernist poet, Chen is yanked unceremoniously by the party into the police force, surprised to make an excellent cop; tenacious, without fear or fawning, promoted despite doubts about the Communist Cause. He notices wryly his cases don’t go as smoothly as the Ruth Rendell mysteries he translates for extra yuan. His chair—basic couch in a spartan Party-allocated apartment. Supine, feet on a grey swivel chair, he puts crimes together piecemeal, contemplating Confucius. It’s late, bed deferred, he indulges delicate longings clothed in the language of the classics, yearns for immersion in Li Bai’s Peach Blossom Lake.

Anne M Carson’s poetry has been published internationally and widely in Australia. Removing the Kimono, was published in 2013. Most recently she was shortlisted for the 2015 Ron Pretty Poetry Prize. She serves as Director Arts on Ondru’s Board—a social-change-through-the-arts organisation. Currently she is seeking publication for Massaging Himmler: A poetic biography of Dr Felix