Shen and his brother,
lovers of nature,
took me along
for a sail
but the world
turned strangely dark
and the waves
began to break like glass
the boat ran loose
in a crystal chaos
and I, for one, suffered
a hundred fears
what about whales?
what about crocodiles?
what if the wind and waves
engulf our boat completely?
The weather starts to clear
and the boatman get to work
our hosts pitch in as well
unfurl the bright sail
the oars sing their song
geese and gulls rise up
let’s have a little music
To welcome the blue sky back
poles and ropes will not
measure this waters depth
as it stirs the water lilies
washing the leaves and blossoms
As we come to the lake’s middle
we see in the dark depths
the southern mountains, mirrored
upside down in the water
here and there a quiver
as if the mountain moved
maybe our boat will collide
with a high mountain temple
maybe the moon will swim
out of the mountain pass
I’d like a black dragon
to offer us a pearl
as the spirit of the waters
governs the movement of sea beasts
let the water princess and mermaids
venture out to dance
among the lights that flicker
green banners, silver poles
There’s still a mild fear that
we’ll have another thunderstorm
who knows what kind of future
Providence has in store?
youth gives way as it must
to realities of age
joy and sadness take turns
in a dance we don’t control.
      Du Fu.    712-770

Image by Chris Freypons