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Contents Page: July 1, 2011, vol 7 no 2

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L. Costa

 

Winter Night

winter night
the new moon glowing
inside dewdrops

Yang was the son-in-law of the richest mandarin in the Zhejiang Province. I knew him through our common friend Wu, the tall Taoist sage. Once, as we browsed old manuscripts in his small studio during a winter night, Yang whispered the following to me, amidst cups of the finest Jasmine tea.

While in one of his many travels around the province, accompanied by his most loyal servant Caichen, Yang got completely lost. It was night already, and fresh snow blanketed everything under a peculiarly intense white quietude. Yet, all was dark underneath the new moon. They were about to dismount and prepare themselves for a harsh night when they saw a falling star. It felt in silence, as all falling stars do when they are not in haste. But, unlike a tranquil star, this one crossed the whole sky until the horizon. A tenuous light started flickering right at the end of the star trail.

quiet of night
every single firefly
abandons darkness

It was a hut and, as they would soon discover, it belonged to an old man donning a long blue mantel, and a yellow sash. He invited them into his home, where a primitive, well-worn drum pended from the ceiling. In the scorched hearth, a pile of stones instead of embers. Yet it was warm and cozy but in the middle of the night, Wu was awakened by Caichen. Almost breathless, he took his master to the window. Outside, the elder was planting medium-sized ice crystals, one by one, in long rows. It was done with great precision, simplicity and respect.

precious gems
blue and green as water
but barren as salt

Today, Yang is still alive and has been playing the dizi (the bamboo flute) every night. Caichen became an officer and is the proud father of a girl and a boy.

 

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