Chinese Chimes: Nine Detours of the Yellow River

you are unaware of your obscure sources

but you are explicitly sure of the vast sea

as your final destination

 

you always frown with your brownish wrinkles

but you prefer a nonprofessional smile on your face

your only luggage of life

 

all your teeth have been lost or pulled out

but you keep licking the muddy banks with your heart

despite your dreams forged

 

your song is no more than a foam of silence

but you struggle hard to remain afloat on the sea of noise

beyond the borderline of heaven

 

your love for the loess plateau often overturns and overflows

but you have never flooded the valley of the dragon’s mind

since confucius’s times

 

your course ahead is crowded with holes and crevices

but you will deliver your promises to every unevenness

instead of promising the deliveries only

 

you occupy an enormously tiny place of the world

but you feed all the hopes and wishes of those

with thirsty mouths stranded ashore

 

you flow down from the sky created by yourself

but you hope to avoid falling on the broken floor

of your own church

 

you may be tortured or burned to steam

but you will eventually find your impossible way

to the sea of blue sky

“Chinese Chimes: Nine Detours of the Yellow River” by Changming Yuan. From Chansons of a Chinaman, copyright © 2004-2009 by Changming Yuan. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: Best Canadian Poetry in English (Tightrope Books, 2009)