Sunday, April 07, 2013

Tonight, again, I think of my brother, Robert (1945-1997)

and his particular narrow handwriting. This is page 2 of a longer letter, but still manages to cover his recent reading, thoughts about gardening shading into philosophy and then guitar-playing. One of the things about digitization is that you can copy and save anything! Even if sometimes the things you find in your archives make you terribly sad. I still think of him nearly every day.
The perfect complement to thinking about my brother is from the Orient of long ago. Again, although it is springtime now, this is an autumn poem. I cannot readily explain. . .


Sky full of autumn
earth like crystal
news arrives from a lomg way off following one wild goose
the frangrance gone fronm the ten-foot lotus
by the Heavenly Well.
Beech leaves
fall through the night into the cold river,
firefliesdrift by the bamboo fence.
Summer clothes are too thin.
Suddenly the distant flute stops
and I stand a long time waiting.
Where is Paradise
so that I can mount the phoenix and fly there?

        Ngo Chi Lan, Vietnamese, 15th century

translated by Nguyen Ngoc Bich and W. S. Merwin
from W. S. Merwin; Selected Translations, 1948-2011, Copper Canyon Press, 2013
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