OF ROSE, AS SUNSET DIES AT DUSK IN DECEMBER
At dusk, the uneaten ducks gather to quack.
It is a cold evening, but without fog.
During such evenings, poets ruminate
and even ordinary mortals feel
the need to reflect
as the sun paints the walls
with dying fingers.
the agenda filled with disturbing conversations
of suicidal but brilliant friends
who scorn doctoral tributes
to tune Porsches and drink $70 champagne
while contemplating a quick end;
and linguistics scholar friend Zhang
speaking imperfect English with a
thick Fujian accent: his remarkable
interest in the Chinese-American woman
(of great beauty) who stands—-frozen in time
with the Chief of Medicine—fixed with
an eternal and open, simple joy of smile
in the photograph before him.
The shadows deepen
As, across the Bay, Mt. Tamalpais, guardian of Gold Mountain,
welcomes the stars and planets to yet another night-time sky,
Something Basho said
from 17th century collections
surfaces again, to wit "…but if I tell you
who I am, you may not like who I am,
and it is all that I have."
Basho was no fool,
despite the antics he shared with Han Shan.
I cannot hate myself for self-indulgent
reflections of the solar fire
which mirrors on the glass of both the window
of the room
and the crystal of my recalled sensations
with the one who forgets me
all too easily. I am too human,
and the presence of you in my room is still
too strong to erase from memory
the painful hope
of each now-dissipated day
in the progressions
of my life.
The wine warms the chill evening air...
the bamboo and pine (sho, chuku, bai…)
which guard the door, nod in the Eastwind breeze.
It has travelled many thousands of miles
from Canton to stir the island trees
which lie behind the Golden Gate
before it blows so harshly
through my heart....
just as the deadly wind
which swept from the frozen Chinese plateau
must have filled the thoughts
of Yasuo kato,
the first conqueror of Qomolangma Feng in Winter,
as his body became ice at one
with Kobayashi, his fallen companion,
Just below the unforgiving summit.
In Yamayo prefecture
there may be crying at this moment
a woman who once knew Kato
only to forget too soon, that,
the No flute, too,
Is played as if it also,
were forgotten for long stretches.
Final words drift
across the Rock Band of the Chinese Approach:
In the snow softly drifting, hot cheeks burled: love, for me.
And so it is, as with the scripts that
people write, the walk-on actor
as the play goes on about him,
the music rising in crescendos like Tsunami,
like Brahms gone berzerk,
a crazed Fohn rushing down the slopes
without divine purpose..
a Joke, if you will,
of Ill-considered import ,
to engulf In avalanche of emotive reconstruction,
the feeble ebb and flow
of mortal groping
in this darkened world.
And still the crimson pale
hangs on above, painting on the walls,
real-time ancestral memories
of 270 BO
and thoughts, expressive of the human condition
which timeless, never die,
but are never new:
“The woman I saw, the woman I wanted this way; The woman I saw, the woman I wanted that way, is here at the banquet, sitting before my eyes, sitting at my side.”
It is not so strange, this retrospect, for did not no less a person than e.e.cummings himself say,
“...your slightest look easily will enclose me through I have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens (touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose...?”
How poignant to hear Zhang wisely
pronounce the fact
of your Chinese heart
and your American behavior,
and my American heart
and my Chinese behavior.
It is truthfully the plotline upon which hangs
a limited option to produce
plays of human derivation
and lasting memories of a sometime liaison
with a woman of iron spirit
in silken raiment
who lingers in the confluence
of mortal rivers,
like the shimmer of golden color
that sweeps men
from the sane realities of normative conduct
to fish forever In the eddies
of romantic fancy.
Of Robert's desire to die in the seat
of his Porsche, clutching his Chateau Moet Chandon Dom Perignon,
“fut!” and nothing more, limited as it is
by the myopic producer of his play...my pity, also,
The crimson tint of the evening
turns burnt-blood brown
till night lays claim upon all, yet again,
the shimmering Image of your fragile, yet alloyed
and steely beauty...,.
I foreswear all further thoughts of stoicism,
and will carry
your fragrance upon
each of my evening breezes
free of constraint
and guilt-ridden /recrimination
just as in the
first bloom of Spring
the last Rose of Summer...
Note: Written in Berkeley, in 1979, and another foolish youthful expression of ardent love, etc., back when I thought I truly understood what ‘love’ was all about. It seems puerile now, but heck. No one cares anymore.