The Ancient Way of Parting
The imaginable distant place where he is going is visibly covered by grasses
As they come here, following a white clean path
To this ferry surrounded by rust-stained weeds.
Nothing special, really. Ordinary coming and going,
The same as the day he came to meet him at the dusk quite like today.
They meet for the first time, and yet they seem to have known each other many lives,
And this parting means only an end of one of their crossings in this life.
Or so they think, avoiding the thought
That the never-again parting in the future is taking place before their eyes.
They make the usual gestures for goodbye, wrapping the left fist with the right palm,
Waving hands and then standing still in long gaze.
One watches at the boat sailing away, dwindled,
While the other sees the ferry backing into nothing.
Distance spreads blankness and vastness into the field of vision.
He turns back, and the path remains there, occasional twos and threes walk along;
The boy at the inn greets him as loudly as he did them at noon,
But their table has been taken by another two.
He sits at the adjacent one, over a plate of boiled peanuts which he picks up
And one by one he hears the faint wet snaps.
When the two have left
They leave behind empty drinking bowls piled upon half of the table.
When the sun sets, he sees a lonely gown standing at the end of the boat,
The same color as the weathered sails.
He seems to see himself there, full of holes,
Stricken by the cries of southern-bound wild geese.
Late at night, he paces around his desk for a poem to his friend
When he is taken aback by a few continuous charring cracks on the oil lamp
He seems to hear from the darkness
A heart-breaking rumor to be spread at tomorrow dusk
And tears rush out of the springs of eyes
The unfinished goodbye has never the chance to come to an end
While his poem has only two lines
"Withered grasses have drowned the ancient road to the edge of earth,
My friend, by which way do you think you could return to your abode,"
Which require no abrupt turn
But a surprise of expression following the usual course of poetics.
What we can read today are the poems and their friendship, quite abstract like names,
But we do not know what jokes they laughed about over the wine
Or what had been swallowed on the ferry of their once and only parting.
As I am writing this now, the thought rises—
If we meet one day and then part, what could we speak out and what would not?
Jan. 15, 2009