Saturday, November 2, 2019

Day of the Dead poem - Shadows, Wandering

This is the second day of the dead, the time when the veils between worlds are thin, maybe non-existent. 

A few years back, I was given news that an acquaintance had died two months previously.

I think the fact that I got the news so late shocked me and there was the confusion that sometimes happens when confronted with the death of someone we never knew very well – 

“How should I feel?” 


It’s an interesting question.
Because it implies there’s a blueprint for how we should feel in certain situations. But feelings are feelings. We feel how we feel.

That night I wandered around in the cold,
after reading some translations of Li Po (or Li Bai) 
by David Hinton.

While I was outside, I saw a light flash on and off up on the mountainside above the road.

Who would be up there in this cold, at this time of night? I waited for a few minutes – no more flashes. Was it a hallucination?

I suppose the poem is centered around mortality, transcience: 
mine and everyone else's...

Shadows, Wandering

After Li Po


News of a death. Two months gone.

The full moon polishes leftover snow on a distant cliff.

I did not know her well – and what does that mean?

My shadow moves through the shadow of a dead sunflower.


The moon circles through bare branches.

I see her face. What were the last words we said to each other?

Everything, absolutely everything tonight, is porous.

My fingers touch the cold, the reflected light, other shadows …


A small light flickers on the black mountainside, disappears.

Who could be up there? Dry stalks rub together:

The sound of shadows wandering, looking for the Ancient Way.

I move among stones, then lift my hand, examine it for no reason. 

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