The Movement of Stars
The old carpenter believes all things in the world are God’s gifts.
He traces the grain of the wood and says,
This is the movement of stars.
I remember how he taught his apprentice to paint the furniture,
a shade of blue brushing anything off during the day,
but at night, becomes transparent, thin as an echo.
The sky was full of stars when he died —
What is transformed into that endless cycle of light?
A fengshui master can also connect stars with the world. He warned us
not to plant trees randomly, drill wells, demolish houses, move
or marry Xiao Hong next door against God’s will,
but I know the paint on old furniture always peels away.
Our palm line, forehead wrinkles … like the grain
of the wood, split by an ax.
— It’s important to look upward.
After a period of noise, a ripe mind is bound to produce wisdom.
“What’re you afraid of?” I ask myself. The stars
gaze down at us too. If you gaze back long enough,
they will blink — with their own perplexity, like
an unfathomable fear that needs to be named.
Insect in Amber
He knows how to see now, including his own fate.
The slow solidification took away his initial anxiety and fear,
even his death. He looks alive now.
You’re almost alive, he tells himself, except
you can’t move or grow old, you are just the same as before.
He is curious he has new ideas. Unable to store them
in the absolute stillness around, he holds them
at the bottom of his heart.
The light casts his shadow like a desire into the outside world.
His compound eyes see countless desires, for instance:
Below his immovable feet, there is always a ladder
bright, almost invisible, shifting slowly
and mistaking his long stillness for a brief moment.
Grazing sheep rarely raise their heads.
Like people ruminating on the past, they must
lick clean patiently the bowl of memory.
It’s hard to know what a climber sees.
at the top of the mountain he leaves behind an empty space.
I’ve been to the top of the mountain.
I’ve seen the peaks and prairies receding toward the horizon
— the Yellow River flows between,
no river longer than this river,
no mountain higher than this mountain.
Shepherds seldom hum the longer tunes.
If they sing, a yak will raise its head
— a stranger’s face.
* “Maqu” in the Tibetan language means Yellow River.