Sometimes only poetry will do

A long-time friend of mine, and mother of my god-daughter, posted this poem on her Facebook page yesterday. Her 14-year-old son brought it home to her because he knew she would love it.

This is a poem to read out loud, savor slowly, put under your pillow, meditate upon, and/or carry in your wallet or your purse until it is completely worn out. Then print it out again and start all over.

Thanks to the (non-Chinese) Internet, you can find out all kinds of things about its author, the Chinese poet Shu Ting. One of my favorite tidbits about Shu Ting is that she began writing poetry after she worked in a light bulb factory. So any one of us could have illuminated our homes with a light bulb that sparked Shu Ting to become a poet.

Shu Ting dedicated this poem to Gu Cheng, another one of the “Misty” poets with whom she published a volume of poems in 1985. It’s translated from the Chinese by Carolyn Kizer, who is another poet worth stockpiling.

Fairy Tale

You believed in your own story,
then climbed inside it —
a turquoise flower.
You gazed past ailing trees,
past crumbling walls and rusty railings.
Your least gesture beckoned a constellation
of wild vetch, grasshoppers, and stars
to sweep you into immaculate distances.

The heart may be tiny
but the world’s enormous.

And the people in turn believe —
in pine trees after rain,
ten thousand tiny suns, a mulberry branch
bent over water like a fishing-rod,
a cloud tangled in the tail of a kite.
Shaking off dust, in silver voices
ten thousand memories sing from your dream.

The world may be tiny
but the heart’s enormous.

Another long-time friend Greg suggested this song to go with this poem. Since I was in such a rush to post the poem, I completely forgot to add a song at the end. I’m so deeply grateful for friends who pick me up in such a variety of ways.

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