Ancient City

By Zhu Zhu

for hong lei

old enough to be carefree like your uncle,
hold a teapot, lie on a rattan bench under the eaves,
hands behind back leisurely watch the sky,
hum a little tune, tread along a rip-rap path.

yet you are still unsatisfied,
looking out from a window once coated
with years of dust, now newly cleaned,
you see that this small city is a boat tied fast to the bitt—

hills around it have completely solidified
their undulating waves, its docks
like industry’s abandoned wife, give way to railroads.
its people are shadowy mosses on the hull.

roving in the far metropolis you are tired
of the mad spinning of clock hands and the masts of interests clashing;
here, you are amazed at the void of the quotidian,
at the breaking for nothing of yet unwithered banana leaves under a clear sky.

what is yet to come folds in a prophetic page of tui-bei-tu
on afternoons of face-cooling breeze,
your only amusement has become
to rendezvous in halcyon times with ladies past their prime.

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