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Huang Tsun-hsien:
from "Miscellanies of the Year Chi-hai [1899],
Eight Selections"


My back against the slanting sun,
I stood at the bridge a long, long time.
People passed me one by one,
and one by one, I nodded.
We spoke of the clearing after rain,
then each one left to go his way,
but I've met no acquaintances,
and who they were, I couldn't say.

(translation: Jennifer Reeser)


Nocturne Over Water

Tonight the moon is low, bronze, crescent
above a lakefront iridescent
with Christmas lights about its edge.
If I could only tell it... ledge,
of highway, bridge, December steel...

We're driving — but the driving feels
like calm, without the extant wind:
a lamentation, darkness pinned
between mimosas still in bloom.

My heart's a recollected room
ascending over wave and grass.
The moon's a mark we'll never pass,
almost a soothing boundary.

I see the glowing industries
and steam on the opposing shore.

Nothing illumines longing more.


What To Give Me In Sickness

Something with pretty pictures, honey, -sheaves
of true blues, morning golds with ornate leaves;

glossy, thick pages never turned before,
scented with hyacinths, daylilies, doors

old as Japan, traditional as slate.
Bring me the broken bridge and arbor gate -

something reminding me in sanguine red
that I exist far too much inside my head.

speaker.gif: What to Give Me in Sickness.mp3


By This Pitch And Motion

In the upstairs hallway, complacent sunlight
stings the walls with beige and translucent almond
over Turkish runners betraying patterns
faded with travel.

At their raveled edges, my daughter slumbers
in the room from which this lost sun diffuses
through a window high on an eastern sill of
drapes and black lacquer.

Past the pillowcase where her blonde head swivels
in a dream of chocolate, or paint and horses,
I imagined rest on the gingham, but it
proved only shadow...

Surely evening goes by this pitch and motion,
by the rasp of fans at the center ceiling,
and the purposes of an outside cypress
hidden from hearing.

But again it's day, in which dust turns static.
Almost blank of heart, I'll descend the staircase
with a babbled tune on the landing like a
passage to being.





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