Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Lake Songs, Five Poems

By X. Z. Shao

If only I only walk here by this lake

If only I could walk here by this lake,
with your hand round my arm,
listen to the cricket sing,
and see butterflies flutter their wings,
weeds of various kinds hang
by the water to look at their faces.
If only I could sit on this stone chair with you
and watch an elder practice Taiji
on the opposite shore in containment,
and a fisherman hold his fish pole
in utter concentration,
and ants line up to work for their queen.

If only I could live among trees
with a hut built just for you and me,
I would grow vegetables
and cultivate millet and rice for food,
I would pick up wildflowers to please your eyes
and your face would mirror a radiant smile.

If only I could ponder with you,
we could lose ourselves in an ineffable state
where you and I mingled in one
and everything existed formless,
and when a swimmer intruded into our solitude,
we would open our eyes and smile
and see a white egret spread its wings under the azure sky.

             Morning, October 2, 2010, by the lake.

Lovers’ Lake

There is a place called Lovers’ Lake
where I hesitate to bring you to,
less you might be reduced to a spirit,
frequenting the crystal water and shady woods,
roaming with love in bewilderment

The chorus of summer birds and crickets
would stupefy you and create you an inner sight.
You were turned into a statue;
the wind spread your senses into the air;
your body was not able to hold them back.

You would enter the honey hearts of all blossoms
and you assumed the color of every plant.
You were embraced by your love without a shape
And your every atom cried in ecstasy;
you splashed the water in utter madness
and you rode on the wings of a gliding egret.

A neat path would lead you to a palace in the air
where banyans nodded to you at the lion-guarded gate.
You stepped in on the cotton-like cloud.
A stream sang half way down a hill
winding its way and pouring to a lake.
Your lover was in one of a thousand towers
Scattering among layer and layer of the misty forest.

You lost in a place where dead trees lay cross;
you cried to escape and saw the guards bar your way;
you wielded your arms in the darkness and hit my face.
You gathered and recollected yourself
and saw you and me sit on a rock face to face.
You were breathing fast and smiling
and hold me close to you wordless and perplexed

                 Afternoon, October 3, 2010

I have finally found a place to pine and die
I have finally found a place to pine and die, 
to pine with love, to die in peace,
to sit still in a cave

and let ivies climb my torso and limbs.
I am the ancient Indian prince.

A bonfire burns like amber in my consciousness,
waves lap the shore sounding like a mantra,
expending further and further,
close your eyes with me
we are roaming in a wider and wider sea.

I fetch the water from the lake by day
and see the wild chrysanthemums’ yellow smile
hibiscuses in blossom, graceful women.
I am not ready to distinguish my fire,
nature and you have imbued me with fuel abundant.

Come tomorrow, my shepherdess,
to graze your sheep in this lake valley
and prepare for me a bowl of milk porridge.
I will have a bath in the water springing deep underneath
my Ganges pouring to me from a nameless shore.
Hover with me, the spirit of my passion,
my last obstacle entangled me in this wonder.
Don’t you see, my boat is lying for you,
the cave is our cave, the lake is our lake,
from now and here on, we are one and one with all.
            Morning, October 5, 2010

In a quiet winter afternoon
In a quiet winter afternoon
when cozy sunlight made mild
the chilliness of the breeze,
a couple of lovers embraced
in the pavilion by the lake,
and two wild ducks ran darting on the water
like flat pebbles skimming on the surface.
Palms trees waved in drowsiness
heightening the solitude with their flutters.
There is nothing else
to disturb the spread of water.
Still green was the southern hill
rich with vegetations.
I had lingered on and on
until I arose to stroll my way home.
What a nice pattern of leaves,
seven piece out of a single stalk.
What a heartache beauty of the five-petal flowers,
red purple spots dotted along the roadsides.
I observed and pondered as I walked,
when all a sudden my heart sank, my bones chilled;
Three bouquets of yellow and white flowers
wrapped with yellow ribbons against yellow paper
with their stalks dipping in the water
laid facing the lake center by the shore.
                  Afternoon, December 22, 2010

Could I bear the tyranny of Time

Could I bear the tyranny of Time
when I would see it carve the bark of a limetree
on her once face of an autumn full moon

that had been mirrored in all rivers and all eyes?

Could I swallow the jeer and insult,
when I would see her walk stoopingly
in the wood used to be the haunt of our youth?
She once stood in a boat on the lake
created by a waterfall, with her bikinied body

smooth as a mermaid glittering in the sun.

Could I surmise my own demise,
when these very hands emanated musk
by touching that very skin of hers
which was the temple of all loves
that sheltered one from all searing heats?
How could I let age spots encroach
my own hands sanctified by the only divine?
Before they grow unsteady, they should gild
on the flying wheels of Time, with my craft,  
the enchanting image that thrills all the stars.

               Morning and noon, January 2, 2011

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