Water course


He is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign place –Saint Victor


Evening wanderings past the trickle
mark at the beginning of the Yellow River
a handful of sand lilies scooped from its bank
peeled then boiled, the petals on your tongue
a dissolvable yearning for aftertaste
(the pedal which asks the song to linger):
we have parched needs in parched lands.

The river refills the wine-cup
the absence in one hand cancels itself
and the hand plucks out a sound—
muted erhu from the courtyard below
where the old folk are dancing
earthbound to Maoist tunes.

I awaken each morning to think
that I am hearing it again, and the
question—is this still exile
or has the entire world finally become
that sweet and foreign place?