Lü De’an 吕德安 poetry translations

The Poetry of Lü De’an


Selections: 1982-1993

Lü De’an was born in 1960 in the city of Fuzhou, Fujian province. Lü, together with local friends, formed a poetry group in the early 1980s, The Friday Poetry Society (星期五诗社). Through this there poetry circulated to other parts of China and the poetry of Lü appeared in unofficial journals, such as Nanjing’s Them in 1985. In 1990, Lü left Fuzhou for New York and Mankato, Minnesota, where his then wife was living. For the next few years, he spent half the year in New York and half in Mankato. Today he no longer goes to Minnesota, but divides his time between Fuzhou and New York.

1) A Night at Wojiao and a Woman [沃角的夜和女人]

2) Father and I [父亲和我]

3) A Gift of Poetry [献诗]

4) A Tune for Guitar [吉他曲]

5) A Severed Branch [断木]

6) Withered Flowers [枯萎的花朵]

7) King of the Crickets [蟋蟀之王]

8) Poems of Death [死亡之诗]

I. #1

II. #4

III. #7

IV. #8

V. #10

VI. #11

9) The Fox within the Fox [狐狸中的狐狸]

10) My Hand [我的手]

11) The Way It Is [事实的经过]

12) Frozen Doors [冻门]

13) Two Different Colored Lumps of Clay [两块颜色不同的泥土]

I. #1

II. #3

III. #8

14) The Thaw [解冻]

15) The Joy of a Mountain Range [群山的欢乐]

16) Mankato [曼恺陀] (16 selections from a cycle of 30 poems)

A Night at Wojiao and a Woman [沃角的夜和女人]

Wojiao, the name of a fishing village

land formed like the sole of a fisher's foot

fan-like bathed in water

when a black shirt stitched full of clouds and stars billows out of the sea

Wojiao, this small night has fully fallen

People sleep early, let the salt sow its smell outside their windows

since nightfall on the nearby sea surface fishing lights

mark the nets in the sea, they've been waiting a thousand years

but the vast night, the interminable wailing of the children

make this place seem devoid of adult supervision

People are sound asleep, the children cry no more

Wojiao's small night cries no more

amidst this bliss everything is smiling the frothy smile of waves

this is the most amazing time, Wojiao

no more a voice gently nudging the man beside her

"Time to put out to sea"

Father and I [父亲和我]

Father and I

we walk shoulder to shoulder

The autumn rain lets up a little'

it's as if years have passed

since the latest rainfall

We walk in the respite

between rains

shoulders clearly touching

but not a word to say

We've just come out of the house

so there's nothing to say

a product of a long

life together

the sound of dripping like a thin branch breaking

Father's hair is all white already

like a plum blossom in winter

but he looks like a spirit

One can't help but respect it

Still these familiar streets

and familiar people raise hands in greeting

with inexpressible kindly feelings father and I

walk calmly on

A Gift of Poetry [献诗]

In the field someone is loading grass

a small horse-cart's gold glitter

deserted all around

only he roams and sings

The loader of grass seems to really know

how to enjoy this stretch of green grass

he piles it high

from a distance it looks like a house

An earlier morning breeze blows

a few stars still flash in the western sky

before long the grass will be carted away

to fill the troughs of wintering livestock

Before him is an even bigger stretch or grass

waiting for his next visit

waiting for him to remember

to bend down to its green embrace

A Tune for Guitar [吉他曲]

That was long ago

you can't say when

or where

it was long ago

It was long ago

you can't remember

the exact time and place

that was long ago

It was long ago

you can't say from where

the wind and dates arranged by letter began

that was long ago

Just like a beautiful reason

no one can explain

let joy accompany you

let pain stay at your side

You mustn't say

lips are made of clay

or of words

when you want to speak

You mustn't say fingers

when you meet

and the wind gently blows

you mustn't say it's cold

Perhaps things are just this way

but you mustn't say

only when a fond memory suddenly rises

then dwell on it please

A Severed Branch [断木]

This branch parts company with its tree

abruptly falling on the roof tiles

it spills a torrent of green leaves

a muffled gloomy sound

As it dropped dangerously

like a long sigh

the old decaying roof

clattered for it like a set of gums

I remember I was in my apartment at the time

frightened, as if somebody had kicked open the door

alone with the silence I guarded; I felt

a shower of sand transform it

Neighbor after neighbor comes out to see

to argue and carry on

A snowfall last winter

called forth this curiosity too

But I don't want to go out to talk

because it's not so beautiful as the snow's premature death

I only want to wait for it to be silent again

wait for my room to resume its original state

So let it perch perilously above

let it dry up in the memory of men

when I happily get back to work again

I hear the tree incessantly singing in the wind

Withered Flowers [枯萎的花朵]

-- for Xin"

I store the flowers in my room

they look like so many small clenched fists

as I bustle about

they pull on my jacket.

These friendless precious flowers of mine.

I part them one by one

like combing hairs.

I want to carefully distinguish

their petals which have been moistened by the wind.

These precious lonely flowers of mine.

They wither

heads droop, so disheartened

the faint sheen of their stems

still endures the sky

complains of the sorrow of soil.

These precious lonely flowers of mine –

­once accompanied me through life

I put them in a window

and they were stored hearts full of sunlight

until that heart went under

until the drying up of a sea

exposed its stones and mud.

They must wither

must die, already they feel no pain

they look so peaceful

their heads are so heavy in my hands

only in death do they demonstrate this kind of weight

when I store them in my room

when we tardily, painfully part.

These precious lonely flowers of mine.

King of the Crickets [蟋蟀之王] September 1987

On lonely star-filled summer nights

if someone hears a cricket

that's my name when I'm sleeping

if someone runs across a great river

to retrieve years and months already passed

that's the green-clad cricket king

Dusk leaps into my eyes

this's also the sound that with the joy of sleep

at the return to the heart of the cricket, makes people remember spring days

set off against a silence seemingly possessing

a crown of innumerable stars

because I'm the green-clad cricket king

After deep deliberation, today

the stars in the sky release their rays of light for me

a never ending clean bright light

just like a river that only the heart can touch

flowing through antiquity's sacred home

because I'm the green-clad cricket king

A once overturned kingdom

tastes the fresh breath of freedom

the initial instant of shock is like a lover

like the blind self-indulgent release of all contents of every pore

and every subtle experience approaches the realm of perfection

because I'm the green-clad cricket king

Who can stop my sound from existing in shadows

who can stick a hand into the ashes of my thoughts and

see my hands barely occupying a stretch of nothing

disappointed at my actual non-existence

and that everlasting tree-shade merely signifies defeat or disappearance

because I'm the green-clad cricket king

Poems of Death [死亡之诗] (selections from a cycle of 12 poems) December 1987


Passing through loneliness takes the form of passing through loneliness

late autumn's smell issues out of speechless parched mud

the quiet of nightfall like a backwater, transcendent

dropping sealed suggestions or the joy of sucking

Sharing everything with the dark yet ripe with possibility

I hear a ladder grow out of the garden

taller than a tree, more long-lasting than a lifetime

therefore I probably have some choice or don't know what to do

On account of time. I'll outlast myself

like clay pottery, bright and clean like the flesh of amethyst

and at the fingertips of inspiration is moonlight

carrying the silence and mildness of November

I see my crops stretch out of sight, at least

I can still stay for a while and not depart

watching the night, the soon to be harvested face

watching the dawn over there, millions of ears gathered into a cathedral


For this reason, death doesn't use time but uses death

in proving itself -- what you see and hear

is merely death, not a beginning or an end

nor a burden put down by someone after passing through things

Death transmitted simultaneously to all ears

by a dead man -- death doesn't even need news

only death to arrive at your dinner table, to arrive

on the dice you energetically throw in the moonlight

You feel the weight of a stone

you're a stone -- this is death

not needing time but death itself

to verify the charm of a person's disappearance

It'll be as if you stood up to introduce yourself and suddenly

not know who you are -- this is death

while you still find it hard to believe

you've already become a person beyond your own startled incredulity


A white room. Father, please tell me

when you begin to sleep what do you hear

I stand guard over your body for a long time, driving off the dark

listening to the deep silence over the entire region that you are

Please tell me, father, during this latter half of my life

how far must my tongue travel to meet up with you

perhaps a future wind will make us forget

but you feel all alone among the falling leaves over there

Tell me, the birthplace of your spreading white hair

there the gravediggers are digging, overjoyed

but how does death hold a drifting cloud in check

and make it vanish quietly on the mountain's back

I feel so close to your heart, so suddenly

and so you stop the noise of your leaves

did you see me when I rushed in

only putting aside my age, a son outside of reality

O, father, please bring me back a little sound, tell me

what is it you hear when sleep begins

also your shadow, that rejected old-age of yours

the shadow of an echo that can never be exceeded again


But father, this is the time you would take your siesta

close the door tightly -- this was so important

keep quiet -- today its importance is in crying

like a butterfly aggrieved by its lost shadow

Who comes looking for you now, which

unavoidable moment is looking for you

in the empty space left behind by you, that after-noon

door is so like your final missing cough

You definitely have a crowded place to go to again

it became a final pleasure as you approached old age

so many dead acquaintances roam there

carrying similar bird cages in their hands

However, somebody's blocked out before snoring sounds

on the highway trucks shake the window glass down

Father, what kind of life is this, I hear death

still in the city's noise everywhere imitating your sleep


The cold remaining on my fingers, makes me probe your skin again

just as substantially as china and its daily uses

when the sunlight and its movement turns all that was

to water, and will soon depart

Your sleep is so light, as if it's vanishing at all times

boats moored there transport no more

it seems there are more people wanting to cross there, their

shoes abandoned on the bank once shouted loudly

You don't need health anymore, you've shaken off this dirty word

you've broken away from the world sealed in a gauze mask behind you

you've cast off moonlight, this antique insane asylum

in its empty space overgrown with vines a mysterious window was once lit

Since you persist like this in your internal darkness

forming an almost impossible reality, I'm not sad

only let me at least listen closely to you for a time, I'm so close to you

and stroke your icy cold china


Things have' become so certain -- you

won't come back. The house is empty

uncertainty is certain -- you're moving

a branch still not entirely dead

There is certainly a part of you accepting this, aimed

at a book and reading slowly, biting into a word

firmly gripping its meaning between your teeth, making it continue

until it ends in your final mouthful of phlegm

Right between your pupil and your eyelid

the night's habitual movements are sliding down, being enlarged

already blocking the stimulants in front

and wincing away from an ineffable required meeting

And so, it's better to say that in your heart you understand

your innocent expression only carries a little timidity

your innocent face has finally experienced death

this once in a lifetime death

The Fox within the Fox [狐狸中的狐狸] September 1988

You'll probably come to me here

you don't know whether I'm here or not

as usual, you're prepared to wait

the interior of your actions seem to have

long possessed a conventional thoroughfare

I'm accustomed to hiding on the other road too

by your side, behind silent flowers

today, it's so easy to feel myself

no longer yours, merely a runaway fox

within your fox

My eyes really see you

when my surroundings can only be proven hypothetically

they have already swept past the door

and again I'm so easily overjoyed

at my physical reappearance

My Hand [我的手] March 1989

I don't know why, but suddenly I'm thinking of my hand

as before I'd inexplicably remembered

the smoke of the chimney on the roof (it's like an illusion)

if it happens once it'll happen again

Now I'm thinking of my hand

feel that it's being is so unperturbed

here it sits, in its depths

and is so easily moved

On the surface of its weight it appears terribly important

it is its own reason for being

it turns slowly into an appropriate position

and still stays in touch with all changes

It's plainly connected to many fragile matters

when we're all tired of one kind of exchange and make the distant party wait

with a shock it always finds the common points between us

and in damaged places makes us whole again

The Way It Is [事实的经过]

Maybe a darkness always wavers over the day.

Maybe a reconstituted rain is about to fall again.

Maybe there's only one road home for us all.

Most likely this is how all facts play out.

Here, perhaps, we deviated from the facts long ago –

In the night our real house is damp

but tomorrow I'll approach it with another kind of dampness

carrying unprecedented feelings of loss.

Perhaps, in reality I can't possibly spell out a boundary.

Loving you but repelling myself a thousand miles away.

Each minute imagined to be more complicated than the first.

When I try to open the door, my aim is to close it.

What else can I tell you. Maybe maybe

when I write poetry because of multiple expressions

one word cripples the foot of another, and finally

can't help but come back on crutches -­-

totally without meaning

Come and explain this for me

Frozen Doors [冻门] March 1, 1991 / March 17, 1992

In the town, a long abandoned adobe house

my impression is that it's no more than shoulder high, seven eight rooms

all open to the sky, just the place

for truant children, they run here

moving stones in and one by one throwing them out

whoever's hit, whoever has bad luck, is you now

slipping in alone, everyone searches room by room

unfound, they simply explore them with stones thrown

into every corner, or pray for rain

let it drive the rabbit from its burrow, in a moment it'll be in your grasp

but it's your father who comes, and you who flee

father's power is silence. Strange to say

he only stops briefly, and you immediately reveal yourself

Winter: snow falls everywhere, boundless,

the doors freeze; only shutting up half-rooms

later they vanish, shoulder-high, all buried in snow

try to differentiate, here and there unrecognizable

maybe this is nature's wind and snow

imitating a child's game, when the children sleep

the house becomes a tomb, what we think

are rooms, now are only a stretch of nothing

everywhere difference no longer exits, and you must let go

already you've grown up. This is what your father says

sitting at the dinner table. Near and far allover town

people offer advice. But I'm not that child

long ago in my dreams the doors broke open on their own

Two Different Colored Lumps of Clay [两块颜色不同的泥土] 1992 (selections)


Two different colored lumps of clay to be made into pottery –

what to do? One red one black both cracked

on the surface two colors unfamiliar with each other

yet between them exists an expectation

as real as my pulse, but not entirely

that sort of reality. For me, they only

produce illusions on my hands, seeking common ground

dreaming of becoming one. And this is precisely love's start

in this regard, there're more than a thousand happy feelings in my heart

my silence is an ample silence, beside me still

a cup a table, plain and pure --­

Hoo, god only knows the sort of tendency this is

an adhesive quality a dampness a weight

to be used to bring about an outward form, or

because of their inherent magic, again, in some way

we'll lose our way in a congenital illusion


This happened yesterday, given me by my pottery-master himself

I have words of appreciation to carefully relate:

In days to come a lump of red a lump of black will rise into the sky

I know what's hidden behind labor

but I'd rather make this sort of analogy with clay:

They are white days and black nights, dreams and wakefulness

a bestowal of form, the clay in the clay

more long-lasting than the fact of birth. And so

there my line of vision can temporarily disappear

my hand also finds memories because of this, although

distance still exists, and it still brings much blindness

And so, my hand will leave me to be itself

unearthing life's meaning with its accustomed persistence and depth

until, they're like hands that exist entirely independently

mastering shape, and laying aside all interpretations


Maybe the whole problem is in the clay itself

they're just as real as my pulse

they temporarily leave me but don't entirely go

I rest in the area they leave for me

here I still have many things that always

maintain a similar area from sleep, by way of my hand they'll also

begin from a nearly non-existent starting point, and in the same way

our love will make our fantasies of stars concrete

we're still choosing to be near, including what we've said

the words we've used (Hey, a word is a direction)

and we've said, two different colored lumps of clay

one red one black will rise into the sky in days to come

Hey, god only knows the kind of tendency this is

Hey, a word is a direction, a pair of hands

it is an island returning to its origins (still with its blind nature intact)

and each direction will converge and become, becoming

the forever attentively listening manner when we face that sky

The Thaw [解冻] January 28, 1993

A stone is seen to remain on the mountain

it won't roll down; this is a lie

Spring, I saw it start to really move

And two summers ago on a higher mountain top

I was on guard against its slightest movement

Shadow on the ground, its suspicious strut

Not like in dreams, in dreams it holds me down

or drives me to tumble into a vacant unpeopled world

And now there are packs of lizards everywhere

running away, as if with the stone's every move

there's a voiceless incantation

commanding you to vanish out of the world, carrying

your body's spots of light and traces of snow

And once the stone calls out, the plants rustle

its long foretold lunatic quality

and its stoney age and stubbornness

will immediately appear, and begin to leap up again

Now you can say no more: go on

stay there. You should dodge out of its way

You'll see, an entirely insensate stone

sometimes there sometimes not, broken in two in the middle of things

Finally a hungry thirsty tribe of them

gathers with a thud on the mountain's foot

in a stream. This is the life of a stone

when they roll on the mountain, I see them

one drops straight down, into terraced fields

one on the steps of the mountain path

one that's shattered itself, in the deep dark grass

rises up, smooth and round, in the midst

of soft sighs, a lithe blue shadow

dampens grass-tops like drops of fresh blood

I believe spring, with its dizzy love, will stand watch

over it, sunlight as its birthplace will provide warmth

the stars will guide, tell it of wind and rain

of roof tops, those that in our dreams

has eyes painted on them

and those truths we do not know

And it's precisely these, only then can we know the mountain slope

is thawing, and miss calamity

The Joy of a Mountain Range [群山的欢乐] March 1993

This endless mountain range has our music

a beautiful motionless tree

a burning fallen angel

its wings will melt, drip on

the pile of stones. Because of this

we can hear peaks surging in the night, pitch black

and falling into their original positions during the day, heads bowed to their fate

We can also hear stones on mountaintops duplicate

emit starlight. And these past millennia

the huge boulder pressed under the roots of the mountains

in the dark, like an overturned altar

a fitting quantity of water is poured across its surface .....

fulfilling time. But in not so long a time

these things will all dissolve into nothing

the music we seek so laboriously will disappear

once again we'll lie together­

accept the caresses of dreams

she cares for our bodies

wants to guide us back to the cradle

she even has prayers appropriate to stones

that tumble down mountains, making them return to mountains once more

and renew their stoniness, Hey! stones

we've heard: lay them one on top of the other right here .....

the you and I of this springtime

Mankato [曼恺陀]

(Selections from a cycle of 30 poems) November 1992 - March 1993

Mankato, Wisconsin


Mankato, a lot of snow fell one day, the town snow

like a church in the small place, rang the evening bell of the holiday

It's already piled up to the second step. But no one no one

stood to say this is unseasonal

"Suppose it's winter now, a thick coat of snow

have to shovel it off as usual, pile it to both sides"

But nobody's listening, only old Mr. Sun

talking to himself as he pushes the plates away …..

There's always someone else who'll do it ….. no one really cares

this old line, is it a refusal or a declaration

It's just that Mr. Sun's swollen red eyes see a pair

of angels wrestling in the snow

Wings undamaged, and a sudden breeze

wakes him, in the warm seclusion of dreamland


Everyday, there're always those who wake up earlier than expected

becoming the people we meet when we go out

There're always people starting the day earlier, but

before long, they go to sleep again

Everyday, when Mr. Sun's swept the snow by the door

the day seems to return to yesterday

Yo, I'm saying that I can't understand it

when Mr. Sun was alive, how did he

live. By the trellis in the back of the garden

miraculously he caught up with my father

Shouting that he wants to go away and raise bees away off somewhere, already

he has a partner, doesn't wait for my father to say nay

He's already out over the waves, casting his nets

in the moonlight, like an amnesiac

Someone who likes to make jokes, he springs out

of his own story, walks in from this house of eternity


When Mr. Sun moved the boat out from the shadow of trees

there was a fair size dent in the snow

Now, we turn over his body

hoping there's a letter underneath. Nothing

Perhaps the letter's already melted, taking advantage

of this blundering snow. The words blur

Possibly there were never words. Mr. Sun,

naturally, had no control over this brand of beauty. He couldn't have done himself in

At this first snowfall, when Mr. Sun pushed the boat

into the water he was shocked for he seemed to hear

a virgin sigh, as if from all his vast

emptiness and grievance in the house

A sea child when he came ashore

he was destined to be carried away forever

by the sound of a refusal to go home


In the latter part of November

what can we do .....

We're in our quilted cavern

showing off its flaming red

The endless painfully brief American night

in a place called Mankato

In a room, Mr. Sun couldn't get used to

the solitude here, when the light

scattered over the snow like salt, Mr. Sun

screamed in his room

Like a wind-chime ringing by the door

he rattled his stubborn guardian of sleep

Sensing the amnesiac in our dreams

while we sleep, the boat

needs someone to help bailout water and snow

in that spot not far off-shore


Once, and only once, I sat down

to write a poem, and Mr. Sun came in

"How do you write poetry," he asked "Is it the same as fishing"

if only it were, I thought

One day, I walked to his boat, after all

he'd agreed a little more experience would do me good

Out at sea, a squid was dying in the water

sparkling and crystal-clear, like the air

also, just like the small floating

country church, heavy-hearted and silent

I asked Mr. Sun to stop hauling in the net, but when I looked back

I only saw a black mist spreading in the water, a patch of panic

The inkfish had fled, like a Judas

poetry's the same, poetry betrays you

Takes advantage of the mud at the bottom of the soul


On some days, Mr. Sun's house

rises imperceptibly up a floor

"Where'd you learn this" I cross over

and smoothly toss him up a brick

A bricklayer bending down to cloud's edge

on top of a pyramid of a house

When he set the horizontal beams, I took a day off

and helped him hold a thick rope

I imagined how crucifixes were propped up in their time

a god's palace is erected like this too

"All that's left to do is the roof" I say:

"Do you want me again tomorrow"

An amnesiac, a joker

now he's left us behind

And this stretch of void and hopeless space


The dance of the snowflakes will soon end

the final gesture of a mute season

Its place will be taken by the speech of another

mute. The first nearly negligible rainfall

creates a dim sight:

on my desk, a stone

It's disappearance sudden and graceful

by the sea, the water washes out Mr. Sun's eyes

Scarcely there this spring rainfall

today, as we stand by our door

I'm astonished by my premonitions .....

but now Mr. Sun comprehends none of this

Neither did he leave behind in the snow that letter

under his heavy body, on the table


Today's a holiday for our stone mason neighbor

in the silence an everlasting transaction is underway

At the door, a bashful cow stands firm

letting a bull, led in out of a strange land, get her scent

I ask the two owners: Why do this

their answer's unanimous: a cracking of whips

As with two familiar rooves

coitus beneath a flash of lightening

Once twice, separated by

a silence like rolling thunder …..

Because of this Mr. Sun's face once drowned in tears

when the bull stood off, brim full of fears

Left behind the illusory cow

forgot its daily labors

The face of the stonemason that remained unmoved

put on a brief smile, just like

A toad in a May vegetable plot


In the same way, suppose that one morning we

could descend to the bottom of the sea, like stealing into a church

But we don't want the proselytizing air, we

breathe freely, surrounded by the light of star-fish dormant for a thousand years

As discoverers we will come upon Mr. Sun once more

a recomposed soul, he almost doesn't recognize us

He says there's another world over our heads

and we've never lived there

His words froth. But we try to understand him

at least we ascend together, until we arrive in a new day

In an astronomical sense, there the stars are stars

coarse and real, similar to a star: the wolf of heaven

Grey as a wolf it can only wash over a face with its ashen light

and those mysterious blacked-out words, Mr. Sun can read them


Think about it, how that day we

pushed through a wall of people to identify Mr. Sun .....

This person who once told us to wait

this person who journeyed over the surface of the sea day and night

But never knew the nature of water, his posture

has been put right, shifted off the rotted plank

To a table top, by way of a conclusion

Oh, yesterday god made a Mr. Sun

Today he bends another down to our knees

and towards these plain ordinary affairs of the world

Having the ear of a conch now, Mr. Sun is even smiling

like a boy in his boyhood

He is even whole to the touch, the skin

of the sea leaving behind a film of salt


Still the small town, transformed from a village

earlier, it was probably only a gesture

Mr. Sun had liked living here. And those stones

ten thousand years ago they'd changed from flowers, or at least before we ever

opened our mouths to speak. Like an old wall calendar

the sea is still above the table, keeping track of holidays

And looking from the roof, just now my mother is coming down from the mountaintop shrine

leaving Mr. Sun's wife alone there

And my father brings along a beekeeper relation

essentially a man who is a Mr. Sun

But whose face is that of an entirely unknown drifter

father speaks to him ….. and then

Everything is wordless. Rain is still rain

the definite being of the rain generates March

And March is my birth-month


What is void of any sense and fading out

is the black cloud over the small town

It doesn't even have a shape, it's incomparably oppressive

passing its days without speaking .....

But it owns everything, owns the same hours

as us. Today, when father

on the roof sweeps out the chimney, and gets sooty all over

I understand his love for the world

But someone is playing a joke on him, they hide the ladder

the arrangement is that he go on to sweep leaves out of the joints between tiles

Then they'll let him down. At that very moment I was in the street

roving round, I saw him in the distance tired and dirty

Stuck in a stretch of shimmering scenery, ape-like,

alarmed arms splayed out helplessly


Summer, we sit on the concrete steps of the pier

body curled a boy jumps, hands gripping kneecaps

Just as we've seen in our mother's womb

when he fell into the water, up splashed a world of water flowers

My oId father has already swum out. He's dodged the first danger

with his just learned stroke, clumsily

He still can't raise a hand out of the water. He treads it furiously

only able to just stay buoyant

Watching his lower jaw clench, I tense up

normally he stands alone where ever he has enough room to do so

With a long wide towel rubbing his back, neck and armpit hair

and his skin that's blue under water

Now he's stabilized, because I'm beside him,

I say: The summer solstice is here, we've lots of time

He swims farther off ….. but nothing, not a thing changes

still clumsy and heavy, until the day he dies

Until I take his hand

placing it within the weight of a hand


Think of the benefits our breaking open

of this pond will bring in future days

Father and Mr. Sun, in the backyard

a pool of standing water provided then with rich fancies

Later the spillage of rainwater made them whole .....

remember them digging it out, moving the dirt elsewhere

Leaving the water behind, and why not

we've got lots of land, besides

Winters are longer than summers here .....

remember the snow, ice forming, when we woke up

On the pond under the setting sun, groups of children

sliding towards the boundless inertia of night, returning

All are adults, behind them more children

more light, and father and Mr. Sun

continued to dig in just this sort of light

not straightening up to take a breather until they have struck roots of trees and bones .....

The world doesn't change that much.


Right now, bare-foot I step into this broad

mud hole, the sea's already retreated to its most distant point

Right now I stand on a height once submerged under the sea

I'm a person waiting to be surveyed

I also think this a temporary evacuation of the sea

and it's mocking my view from the vantage point of distance

I think of those mountaintop shrines

like perception, tangled in mist

A gaze into the distance. I think the world needs this

I hide my shoes in a secret place on shore

But miraculously children get hold of them

….. like the poor broken boat, like Mr. Sun

Left behind, when the children steal them

soon discarded in another place

And this abandonment is perfectly proper


Traces of honey bee hibernation and

the tiger stripes of bees

Forests, hands, islands and

all seldom seen things

I must take that day

as a permanent farewell

Tonight, like pushing aside a book I must

gently close it as if it were the eyes

of god, remove it from reality

like our bee-keeper relative's hands

This pair of dun hands sublime

once conquered fear. These hands

are today encircling swarms of bees. Traces of honeybee

hibernation and the tiger stripes of bees

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