Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Still life with mussel shell

Part 3 of Gu Cheng's POETRY LESSONS (1980)

Between the outcropping of coral headlands, there was a small sandy beach.

There in the sand, over many years, the tide had left behind shells, forever beautiful and undisturbed.

But when I stopped, what drew my attention were not those brightly colored shells, but rather a very plain spiral shell, one that scuttled there alone through the shallows. When I grabbed hold of it, I then realized that there was a crab hiding inside, alive.

I want to thank that crab for teaching me about poetic language.

One spirited spoken phrase, unique in its construction, is far better than dozens of antiquated and elegant expressions.

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