After Li Bai, For Shujen Wang
5. A Song
When she glides around the garden
her light dress lifts like a cloud
and her face, because the mind
makes it so, appears to be a rose.
And when she stands on her terrace
lucent with spring dew, it’s either
the jeweled crest of a jade mountain,
or the moon-drenched palace of the gods.
7. Neither Here, Nor There
I’ve been staring so long at my face
in my wine—suddenly it’s dusk.
A blizzard of dogwood blossoms
has fallen, making my clothes a dune.
I’m so drunk I walk out into
the stream, the moon there, the sky.
The birds, I think, must be far away,
like everybody else. Except me.
9. At Heaven’s Gate
It is as if this river, surging,
has shattered the mountain in two.
Its waters churn the color of jade,
fomenting east, swirling back west.
Ahead, two blue summits face
each other, parted, lifting up.
I aim for the heart, my sail’s blade
slicing in half the sun’s wide wheel.
10. Question and Reply
What is the reason, you ask, for staying
alone with myself on the Jade Mountain?
I smile at you, but will give no answer—
my heart is a still lake reflecting sky.
Do you see how the flowing river carries
the peach blossom, unknowingly,
to some farther shore? Here, now, apart,
heaven touches earth in the human world.