Private Thoughts — after Yen Shu



In happier times the setting sun

lacquered the waves in the harbor

now below the Lions the rain

has swelled the creeks into torrents

so many days of loneliness

and now desolation and no stove fire

I’d send a letter in a fish if I could

but everywhere rivers and mountains are endless

___

___

This poem is a collaboration between me, Yen Shu (991-1055), and, because I don’t read Chinese, the translator, Red Pine (Poems of the Masters, Copper Canyon Press). Some of Red Pine’s words are included here with no change whatsoever. The image of the letter in a fish is Yen Shu’s. The personal elements that locate the poem on Vancouver’s North Shore are mine.

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