Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fan Jinghua: Ship of Fools

   Ship of Fools
I am still a long boat, shoveling into the still turbulence of craving
With paddles of arms, poles of legs
Along the water of time, upstream
Some nights, your bunk bed also sails like an ark for two
Carrying on the upper bunk my unutterable solitude
That dribbles down from the cartons and suitcases
Everytime you kiss me, I bring you a twig of paper olive
But spring scents and autumn colors outside the window hurt your senses

Mornings, you’d walk from the hilltop dorm
To your desk that is surrounded by file cabinets
You’d stop at a foodstand for a cup of soybean milk and a sticky rice ball
The time before you step out of the door is always too long
And you often forget to dress up
I love your naked face in the early sunlight; even in imagination
I have fallen so flat that I spread like a pelt
So I fly in the wind and float on the water, even now

Into the square mirror you look and see a pale blue background
Of a mosquito net whose hooks dangling like tassels
Never lifting it up, never pulling it open
In a few more seconds you’d see yourself as a catamaran
That has drifted out of an unloved night into the bustling market
Where I’d follow you diligently like a sailor-husband on family leave
From a farmer’s to a butcher’s, answering all your what-do-likes
With a whatever-you-like which only invites your complaint
But the asking and answering carries on throughout the vocation

What would have happened if the asking-and-answering did not break down
But ships will dock and boats will run aground
What happened to the Ark when the flood receded
Could a prophet single-handedly hide it in a catacomb
What could the pianist on the ocean do when the girl left the ship

Birdsong, a rebroadcast, is a warm-hearted bore
As are the three sharers of your cell to each other
They work at split shifts and no one could have a time of her own
At one end of your bed, blouses and dresses hang on the rack
A newspaper canopy accumulates in disquieting seasons
The same quiet dust, clean if not disturbed
This proves a good partition between your compartment and others’
As the saying goes good fences make good neighbors

My jejunely romantic mind shares Poe’s notion
About “the most poetical topic in the world”
I can picture a ship of coffin that opens at one side
When you hold your breath as I bend down over your head
That is a white beach where whiter bones lie, half buried
Like hatched turtle eggs, in halves
We are two boulders that prop up our ark like the cradle
Will you startle awake at the creaking sounds
I know in the neighboring coffins there are intolerant sleeping beauties
Who, once woken up, would bite our shadows from behind

The ship of fools should be ousted
And I could only lie prone on the water of memory, adrift
          Jan. 9, 2007
          Jan. 17, 2007

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