This poem caught my eye a few days ago. I was strangely unable to find a single analysis piece, however.
What is the meaning of Praxis by Wendy Xu?
the practice or exercise of a technical subject or art [OED]
and there are several references to writing and poetry: “put down in writing”; “pastoral description”; “do what your poems want”. So it looks as though the poem is about the practice or experience of writing poetry.
The narrator seems to be describing an internal conflict over the wish or need to write two types of poetry. She has been writing politically engaged poetry:
I had put down in writing my fear of the war
but this kind of poetry is not fulfilling for her:
Newness does not, for me, equal satisfaction
and she wished she could have been writing a different kind of poem:
I too pined for pastoral description
The narrator knows that she has only time to publish a limited number of poems:
A finite number of concentric rings I push out into space
There is further intimation of mortality in this image, which might represent a grave being filled:
The sound of the earth closing its one good eye over me
The narrator imagines putting aside the “thorns” and “arms” of her political poetry and being satisfied with writing her preferred pastoral poetry. The imagery used for this kind of poetry is pure and clean: “blue of the water”; “margin’s white hand”, and:
You do what your poems want and are clean
The rhetorical figure in this line is hypallage: it’s the the narrator who wants to write these poems, not the poems themselves.
(This is just my personal interpretation, and the poem is written very elliptically, so other readers might come to different conclusions. Someone familiar with Xu’s oeuvre might be able to find more detailed interpretations, for example “put down in writing my fear of the war” might refer to a particular poem.)