The Village On The Water IV
Thump-thump of stiffening fish contorting in the
Bilge beneath the gunwale;
Lidless, bulging, reddened eyes, swivelling upwards,
Protruding horribly from the straining sockets,
Express stupefied amazement at the inconceivable
Of a former world pulled inside out.
The opening and shutting of mouths, almost as if
Attempting to fashion words for the injustices of
Such a cruel, monstrous act.
Desperately trying to draw on that which can
No longer be found.
Conscious of this agonized, suffocating death they
Endure, we are prompted
To seek endorsement from the River Gods.
Soon that nameless thing that comes to strangle all
Will come Searching for our breath also...
But not this day. Today, to satisfy our urgent needs...
These fish are compelled to give up on theirs.
Choruses of bird song. And orioles serenade our
"Tie up your boats", the birds sing, "we will watch
Over your mornings catch"...they too are alert to
The shaded heron.
An extending, accentuated, placing of the feet;
Huddled and wrapped in obsequious and divine
Ever vigilant -- ever cautious;
Stalks with painstaking deliberation of a
Creeping Snow Leopard;
Headband more blacker than Summer's thundering
In the narrowing slit of the pupil -- an intense,
Pitiless as the murderous assassin that steals
Through the unlit nights.
But we know his artful ways...and stow away our
Now we will sit cross legged and eat
Hot-dry noodles, steamed wuchang and pork-rib soup
With lotus root;
And raising smooth, round, porcelain drinking cups,
Decorated with brightly fired colours,
To our salty lips, sip sweetened green-tea
Made with water from the blessed Toad Hole;
After having drank from this rare hole, Lu Yu
And declared it --
"The Fourth Spring Under Heaven!"
My wife, shuffling about the floor as a timid,
Sighing absently in that abstract manner, softly
Chiding and scolding unto herself...
She has a secret she has not yet disclosed of me.
It will be a boy...the old priest in the orange robe
Has foretold of it.
The boy shall fulfil his earthly duty to his
Heavenly ancestors as I have done...
And as all those who have come before me have
Fathering children is an honourable duty...
And must, therefore, be considered higher than a
She will tell me when she is ready to tell me...
The only permitted privilege for a female.
I am well acquainted with the rules of the game...
Having played this game before.
Flattened evening stretching faraway over fading
Could just as easily be another clearing dawning.
The lapping waters lulling swell, putting me in
Mind of contented sleep visited upon a woman's
Shifting the secured wupengs -- upwards --
Tighter still against their creaking moorings;
Flurrying snow, caught in the glare of the
Falls silently upon deserted verandas;
A fragile sun finally relinquishes...collapses down...
Sinks into the bottomless depths of endless green
That huge Autumn Moon --
As big as an island in the emerald sea!
Copyright © john fleming | Year Posted 2020