I hadn't planned on posting poems by other folks on here, but lately these have been holding on too tightly.
All Summer You Kept Trying to Answer
by Jane Hirshfield
All summer you kept trying to answer the knocking.
Down the hill,
the new houses composed themselves,
first story, second story, roof.
Your own story stayed unvisited, unfurnished.
What lived there
was smaller than mouse-sized. Perhaps a cricket still moved.
The heart, wanting to waken,
drank its tiny cups of morning espresso.
One morning choosing a green cup,
the next morning yellow. Red. Blue. Then once again green.
All summer the heart circled the wheel of its colors.
What does it matter if now a dog wakes you,
night after night, in the dark?
Comes to the bed and stares until you open the door,
then goes out to start up a racket that no neighbor hears.
When Tu Fu turned forty,
he drank rice wine, dipped his cup over and over,
barked like a dog into wind.
Perhaps this dog is Tu Fu, still going on,
howling at time, at friends gone to the Yellow Springs.
Does he hunt some impossible answer —
beauty? or justice? — there in the outer dark of the world?
Or, more modern questioner,
hunt only the scented knock of a better question?
He is gone a long time.
Who stands in the doorway is you.
Still, waking is waking. It is good to have a companion.
The late stars shine in the cold, some red, some blue.
And this isn't Tu Fu, but Hirshfield made me think of my Chinese poets.
Sitting alone amid dense bamboo
strumming my lute and whistling
deep in the forest no one else knows
until the bright moon looks down
-translated by Red Pine