Moon at the Window
Eyes blur easily
As candle flickers – moonbeams
Become tonight's dream
This old body, which doesn't belong to me anyway,
has started to decay after seventy years.
What's left of it, I offer to Buddha.
After two years of visiting the eye clinic
I'm due for another injection of Lucentis
for late (wet) age related macular degeneration,
At times like this I feel like a clay ox
ploughing a field of stones.
Taking a shortcut
through the mist – I arrive home
before I had left
The thought of that first injection left me in a state of
tribulation. A needle going straight into the eyeball, sounded
like medieval torture. Something out of a Dali film
But as it happened, it wasn't too bad. The anaesthetic drops
took away the pain But on wearing off, it felt like a bee had
stung me in the eye.
Glaring at each other
me and the squawking seagull –
the hot summer night
I remembered those T'ang & Sung dynasty poets, who had problems
with their eyesight. Like Mei Yao-ch'en…
"My eyes have suddenly grown dim.
In broad daylight I seem to walk through fog
The things of this world no longer visible
Birds flying by in a haze" (1)
& Po Chu-I…
"Evenings my vision dims, as though the lamp
were fading. Mornings blurry eyed, I think
the mirror hasn't been cleaned
A thousand drugs, ten thousand remedies can
work no cure, nothing to do but close my eyes
practice Buddhist austerities"(2)
So, in good company, & like those ancients "crazy with poetry,
wild with wine, shaking the universe"(1) nestle back in bed
listening to distant bird songs as they fill the gaps
between the summer night drizzle and the dust of ages.
Forgetting that dream
I just had – slumberous moon
at the window
Sources: adapted from
(1) Mei Yao-chen & the Development of Early Sung Poetry by Jonathan Chaves (Columbia UniversityPress 1976; p142 & p60).
(2) Po Ch-I trans by Burton Watson (Cambridge University Press, 2000; p.42 )