At Thoreson Farm, a historical preserve, Leelanau County, Michigan.
At the Door
How I wish there were a doorway
where, mornings, sun would shine on grass.
We would stand
leaning on our door,
the door low, but the sunlight bright,
the grass seeding, wind shaking its blades,
we standing, not speaking.
That would be so fine.
If there were a door that we needn't open
and it were ours, that would be so fine.
Mornings. Night would drift off.
We'd give him a guitar, but not go with him.
We need the earth,
need the indestructible earth.
Let us keep it
all our lives.
The earth is coarse, sometimes narrow,
but it has a history,
has a sky, a moon,
dewdrops and mornings.
Nameless Flowers; Selected Poems of Gu Cheng;
translated by Aaron Crippen. Braziller, 2005. page 111.
I cannot explain, just describe, how deeply Gu Cheng touched my heart the one time I heard him read. Carolyn Kizer had brought some of the "Misty Poets" to San Jose State. I liked them all, but I had the strongest response to Gu Cheng and his interplay with the audience about his hat, which he made from a starched denim cut-off trouser leg. I guess I might use the word, ineffable; I sensed something beyond explanation.
Gu Cheng's father was also a poet, and the family were sent out to raise hogs during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The boy and his father used to say their poems to each other and then burn them in the fire they were using to cook the food for the hogs. He opened one little door to China for me.
Doorway in Greece, from my sketchbook.
This house is gone now, like Gu Cheng, who killed his wife and then himself
at the age of 37 in their home in New Zealand.