Cao Xuan Tu

Li Po Wintering

Somewhere over the concrete
warzone some fool shoots a fuse,
and plunges the city slaves
into a new Dark Age.

And you midtown dropout,
fresh prisoner in a snowbound cul-
de-sac, throwaway your book,
fumbling for a match.

You pull the drapes, blinking, and catch
a showering of stars, creamy
and cold like the skin of
a Frisian milkmaid. But where is

 that old moon, recluse like you,
among the ice-capped firs, the stony
walls? Then you see pale beams
bounce across the rim

of a puddle of water. A convolution
now fading, now returning.
Beginnings of a constellation
or just your imaginings?

Call it moon. Li Po drank it
and drowned in the river.
But you cannot drown
in a puddle of water.

Cao Xuan Tu
(From: Westerly, Spring 1995, Number 3)

Cái Đình - 2019