After Wang Wei and Sarah Howe
You come from my hometown and should know about things there.
Has the winter plum2 before my window3 bloomed?4
1. Miscellaneous Poems: Sporadic impressions or trifles that are produced
at any time. Poems of uncertain title.
2. Winter plum: “Cold plum”; plum blossom in winter.
3. Window: Carved patterned window. Here, it is a pattern of silk.
4. Bloomed: “Opened flower”, “opened bloom”.
The lyric protagonist lies close to life, a household mirror, or an artist’s sketch
of miles of streams
of people coming home to see their relatives and friends. Exceptionally warm
familial eagerness. So,
what sort of thing do you want to know about strangers living in different places?
Soon our provocative protagonist’s imagining
you in the shapes of blossoms at his window. Using plum blossoms as a substitute
for many things, not only form, but also poetry,
the commonest household affairs, the cold, things he’s misplaced, and, at the same
time, the lofty character
of his allegiance. The whole thing laid out as