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Manoa 15.1 (2003) 97-100

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Five Poems

Liu Kexiang

Natural Science Teacher

Finally I spy that bundle of light, slowly flowing into the woods. Like
a silent stream, leaving a waterfall, myriad specks of dust, like spores,
float among the beams, exploring, or aimlessly wander off.
They enter the woods. There's a child fascinated by insects, going on
and on about plants with me. There's a youngster who loves climbing
mountains and fording streams, who will someday trace every range
I've crossed. As for that girl who writes like a poem, she's never
grown up, still that same likeness of an eleven-year old I dote on.
They'll come across my death, in different places. It might be like the
shards of a beetle shell, or possibly a rotting, withered tree.
And, by chance, they'll encounter my birth, a kind of essence even
more concrete than tender shoots and new leaves, sitting by their side
in lonesome moments.
They continue going into the woods. Inside my aged sea-turtle's body
they squirm about, vexing me, tiring me, harassing me. It's always
been my living question mark, my uncertainty.

One Sunny Winter Morning

Owing to the ravages of life, Blissful travels, and a maturity born of felicity,
I've acquired the disposition of a frog
Heavy-lidded blurry vision
Plodding vague mouthfuls of slurred words
Only savoring delicacies
Taste refined to the snatching of a passing mosquito [End Page 97]
Until a great cluster of ferns luxuriantly grows
The deepest recesses of my mind naturally so sodden
And consequently mold-encrusted that
All their former depravity and glory
Are thoroughly ensconced
And completely decay into sediment

Central Ranges Of Bear Cub Laheyuan

In the night, firelight deepens wrinkles
Eye sockets fall into shadow as well, concealing
A glimmer denser than pity
You squat on your slackened backpack
Only some maize left roasting on the grate
That's tonight's and a lifetime's provisions
At dawn you'll be like a Sambar passing
      through a forest of pine needles
Catching the solemn whisper of dangling
A middle-aged, white-haired Shikano
      Tadao traveled just this way
From childhood he entrusted his soul to
One man bearing the 1930s, visiting Snow
      Mountain seven times
You also want to set out across a mountain
      ridge without a return path
Leaving no descendants, only an isolated
      squat shadow
Letting your skull roll down the pebbled
That's a camphor tree, Chinese juniper, hemlock
      spruce—one by one they disappear en masse
Four hundred years of unease
All that survives is this chill stretch of tranquility
Tears roll off the tip of your nose
Onto the raging flames of your dreams
The life of one naturalist
Lonely, so lonely
Let the nutcracker scream awake death
Let the stone tiger gnaw at the flesh
Let the winter night bury the soul [End Page 98]

What is Indescribable about Mount Indescribable

Perhaps it would be more precise to start with the
      leaf tip of a cold Japanese cedar
That's the moment of contact with the dry edge
      of a long-maned mountain goat's nose
That's an azalea's petals finally dropping
That's an almost intolerably quiet winter dawn
That's a mikado pheasant cock stretching its
      neck to feel the warmth of sunbeams
That's the day when the louse reunion again fills
      the lean-to
I stand on a mountain that maps don't name
Shoulder-to-shoulder with the gaunt clouds,
      with the Han Chinese Xing Tianzheng
Looking upon winter's most remote likeness
The vast world of a single Japanese cedar on
      the horizon
An old Taiya man blows on a mouth harp
My pocket journal has again grown light
The pent-up feelings in my left ventricle have
      once more grown heavy like stones
All my desires turn to ice.

Song of the Chinese Juniper Forest

Finally, using a myriad of lofty postures
Together with the...


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pp. 97-100
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