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Manoa 15.1 (2003) 40-45

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from The Salmon's Encounter with Death

Luo Fu


The moment an eagle swoops down
Out of the sky above a river valley and
A diaphanous layer of moonlight from the water's surface
Time is silenced
As our tale unfolds
Once we swim upstream from the sea
The Adam's River becomes eloquently mute
The grassy banks dreary
The fog harder to control than ever imagined
So pale the morning
Changing by afternoon, speech slurred
The turbulent waters are gone
The river gradually grows colder
Leaves fall
Autumn floats and sinks
The water's words
Sputter on dangerous shoals
The fallen leaves are silent as autumn sheds tears
There's absolutely no need for such classical cruelty
The road extends to the horizon
Precipices and plains are all part of the course
In the great wave of Change
There is no need for joy or sorrow
And even less need to stubbornly insist that
I'm that bubble amid Change
Fear is unnecessary
Anger is unnecessary
Excessive concern is unnecessary
Living, or dying, for a philosophy
Also [End Page 40]
God exists in the breaths we take
And in the
Breathing of a
Blood-engorged louse
Reverence is unnecessary
Excessive faith is like extra fat
Piety is unnecessary
Before constructing the garden of life
We were choked
With all sorts of poisonous weeds
And God
Was speechless
Our only enemy is time
Before the dream is done
The course of life is run
A plume of smoke
Rises into the empty sky
Silently disperses
Vanishing into a greater nirvana
To deny illness unnecessary
To prevent fading and aging unnecessary
To cling, it is said, is more toxic
And, of course, unnecessary
To renounce     unnecessary
To be renounced     also unnecessary
Open-mindedness     unnecessary
Transcendence     unnecessary
Demons     good and bad, all unnecessary
The Buddha     plucking a flower and smiling also unnecessary
A short life
Spent looking for the key
Entirely unnecessary
The door     let it hang open
The clouds     let them float by
At this, time mumbles
Something that can't be heard
Expressed from deep within
    Spoken for the water and mud
    Spoken for the insects in the grass
    Spoken for the flying birds and the stars
But our words
Are caught deep in our throats, frozen [End Page 41]
A torch
Bound with rusted wire
Its aim not to burn
But to
Burn out and
Turn to ashes in a cold, cold ending
As we float and sink
Controlled and oppressed by language
There is nothing we wish to say
On the verge of death
We face an unknown face
In a blank space
We read a greater blank
First our form and color change
The minute changes of Change
Setting us apart, actually it's
A hook-shaped lower jaw
That grows out of our
Bodies (the invasion of an alien prior to death?)
Our spines
Ever so slightly
Begin to bow (perhaps concealing the unsolvable mystery of life)
And overnight our bodies turn red
What does this foretell?
Red has always been a serious illness
The river flushes
The reeds flush the pebbles
Flush, the lichens flush
The marine animals flush
The peeping moon hiding on the peak flushes
The breathing of the Adam's River is red
Our Lord
Pauses wearily atop the clouds
His face red
Red at times is also the dispersed text of a foul speech
And is even a knife
For carving holes in human flesh and
Burying gunpowder
But we believe in something cooler
The church keeps a god
A nest of rats
As well as solitude
A bloodless solitude
Deeper than a wound
A wound deeper than a frown [End Page 42]
A frown
Deeper than a prayer in a dark room
What tidings from the universe
Transcend worldly experience?
Life, at best,
Is just a heap of copper and iron scrap
That once clanged and rang
Beneath the rust the persistence remains
The dignity is still there
A heavy...


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pp. 40-45
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