Poem – Lone Wild Goose

Alone, the wild goose refuses food and drink,
his calls searching for the flock.

Who feels compassion for that single shadow
vanishing in a thousand distant clouds?

You watch, even as it flies from sight,
its plaintive calls cutting through you.

The noisy crows ignore it:
the bickering, squabbling multitudes.

Poem – A Woman of Quality

Matchless in breeding and beauty,
a fine lady has taken refuge
in this forsaken valley.
She is of good family, she says,
but her fortune has withered away;
now she lives as the grass and trees.
When the heartlands fell to the rebels
her brothers were put to death;
birth and position availed nothing–
she was not even allowed
to bring home their bones for burial.
The world turns quickly against
those who have had their day–
fortune is a lamp-flame
flickering in the wind.
Her husband is a fickle fellow
who has a lovely new woman.
Even the vetch-tree is more constant,
folding its leaves every dusk,
and mandarin ducks
always sleep with their mates.
But he has eyes only
for his new woman’s smile,
and his ears are deaf
to his first wife’s weeping.
High in the mountains
spring water is clear as truth,
but when it reaches the lowlands
it is muddied with rumor.
Her serving-maid returns
from selling her pearls;
she drags a creeper over
to cover holes in the roof.
The flowers the lady picks
are not for her hair,
and the handfuls of cypress
are a bitter stay against hunger.
Her pretty blue sleeves
are too thin for the cold;
as evening falls
she leans on the tall bamboo.

Poem – Morning Rain

A slight rain comes, bathed in dawn light.
I hear it among treetop leaves before mist
Arrives. Soon it sprinkles the soil and,
Windblown, follows clouds away. Deepened

Colors grace thatch homes for a moment.
Flocks and herds of things wild glisten
Faintly. Then the scent of musk opens across
Half a mountain — and lingers on past noon.

Poem – Full Moon

Above the tower — a lone, twice-sized moon.
On the cold river passing night-filled homes,
It scatters restless gold across the waves.
On mats, it shines richer than silken gauze.

Empty peaks, silence: among sparse stars,
Not yet flawed, it drifts. Pine and cinnamon
Spreading in my old garden . . . All light,
All ten thousand miles at once in its light!

Poem – Advent of Spring

The city has fallen: only the hills and rivers remain.
In Spring the streets were green with grass and trees.
Sorrowing over the times, the flowers are weeping.
The birds startled my heart in fear of departing.
The beacon fires were burning for three months,
A letter from home was worth ten thousand pieces of gold.
I scratch the scant hairs on my white head,
And vainly attempt to secure them with a hairpin.