The single fence post in the photo is a cedar one remaining from the days when this was a working farm. There are still a few along the drive to our place in the wood. As they age, they lean toward the earth and, as here, are sometimes held up only by remnants of barbed wire. These fences, and the stone piles, are witnesses to the 19th and early 20th century lives spent here.
The Pear Leaves Redden, Cicada's Song is Done
translated from the Chinese by J. P. Seaton
Wind high up in the River of Heaven,
flute sounds: cold and cutting.
A chill on the mat, the water-clock dripping.
Who taught the swallows to make so light of parting?
At the edge of the grass, the insects moan,
as autumn's frosts congeal.
Stale wine awakening,
I can't remember when you left.
How much of what I really feel is left unsaid?
Night after night moon dawns
upon my pearl-embroidered screen.
from The Gift of Tongues; twenty-five years of poetry from Copper Canyon Press, edited by Sam Hamill,1996, page 237.
I am very fond of these ancient Chinese poems in translation. Of course I know that that the people who had the leisure to write them were not knee-deep in the rice paddies. Their food and comfort was provided by the hard work of others. Their pearl-embroidered screens were made for them by skilled artisans, who probably didn't have the leisure to write poems, either. My own pensioned life is also quite comfortable, although I don't have to learn court etiquette, or fuss about the emperor's planned visit. Or write poems to order. Autumn is coming, and I think this poem captures that feeling well. Twelve lines is a good length for a poem: long enough to give details, but not become too whiny or boring.