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Manoa 15.1 (2003) 37-39

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Fallen Leaves

Yang Mu

Translator's Note

            The 2-28 Incident refers to the riot of Taiwanese people in pro-test against the Nationalist government and its brutal suppression. The riot was triggered by an incident that took place in Taipei on 28 February 1947. The Incident was a taboo subject under the Nationalist regime until the lifting of martial law in 1987. Since then, the government has made an official apology to the victims' families and erected a memorial statue.—M.Y.


How does an awakened heart examine the blood trails of old
under the remnant icewalls of thorns, snakeberries, and
caltrops? Leaning, I listen to how the beetles and chrysalises
measure with their humble trails the obscure path
from death to rebirth, the journey we have vowed
to take, all the actions of a pilgrimage
and our questioning. When the scorching
sun first enters a shared night
and moderates the temperature, so that our earth
can obtain a solid intellectual basis as it turns at an angle
how the moon in its own track of revolution, in total eclipse
intimates the law of human partings and togetherness. But we
still argue the night before our journey
about each other's direction, deepening in the impassioned
      darkness of last night
—the disintegration of desire, watermarks on frosted glass
drawing repeatedly dragon-patterns, a sketch of ethical
symbols—the memory of spring rain tapping the window
a relentless debate. But before the day breaks
the rain has stopped, the group of pilgrims
left a long time ago. Partridges coo far and near [End Page 37]


Summertime, we live in the village of orange orchards, evenings
we listen to Granny's stories about the old war and close family
up till the time of the 2-28 Incident. In the mixed scent of
      mosquito repellant
and jasmines wafting from the yard I fall asleep
Dreaming of carefree flying, like a red-crowned crane thrusting forth
from the matting of a Chinese scroll, an almost transparent
spreading its large cartwheel wings, floating amidst
an ascending range of mountains. Time shifts its balance
in the wind, changing speed as it pleases
The seven colors of the cosmos turn instantaneously
casting me behind in the dim, ever-widening net
at the nexus of dots and lines, broken connections and curves
I bid a silent farewell to yesterdays
The scattered clouds and layered greenness, at this moment
under my gaze at a counterclockwise reality
take on a coloring from the foothills and the peaks—
melting into sea-blue angelic eyes, looking down
at the lush vegetation world in the great heat
Locking in the seasonal pattern of decay, pointing to a rebirth
like written words illuminating


Revolving like this toward a key entity
the final completion. The dew drips white drops first
on the dense slender-eyed foliage of aging trees
A falling star glides off the southwest sky unexpectedly
near the water, soon after the midnight frost
Frost flies up the unpainted wattle fence, we
look up from our books. Perhaps it's the last
fireflies of the year hurrying from the scattered classics
to prove that reading could also mean the collapse of
private imaginings; or it's the virus of creativity spreading
to the dark night as sweet as fruit juice. Crickets
screech in the drafty western chamber where we comprehend
decay as we sit down to read Songs of the South
till all the stars have changed their seasonal colors
indicating work done, and our stagnant thoughts
can't keep up with the universe revolving in greatness
outside the window, toward an organic completion [End Page 38]
I sit up to inquire, pressured like never before
Nebulous clouds surge and sail on
A leaf falls, making the windchime sing


Then your magic mirror begins to reveal to us
all the expediencies. Sure enough:
Earth always slants toward the domain of dreams
when the heart is at its bleakest
Without hesitation, I choose the day
when the sea...


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