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Lighter than a feather -- Diana Bridge

Guest poem submitted by Juned Shaikh:
(Poem #536) Lighter than a feather
 I

 His voice was a broken tile
 in a classical setting,
 a clay edge grating against sky.

 Now his silence speaks to
 the classified space
 in the front of the square.


 II

 A man in a corduroy hat is spinning
 over the sea. Gu Cheng,
 feeling light with a poem.

 This was in the early days when,
 the glaze not yet dry,
 he would sit watching sharp

 incredible outlines
 rise out of the harbour
 needing such a harbour

 to displace waves
 of pale terracotta branded with
 the tight stamp of a seal.

 Did he think he was like
 Any young man clearing out a pigsty
 Or a property?

 He was his mother's obstinate child.


 III

 He left behind a set of graded bells.

 He left behind
 the slow build of stories,
 tiles placed across the centuries,

 each one taking off diagonally
 from the one before.

 His pain trickled down
 through the floor boards.

 Though he left with a poem
 in his arms, he left
 behind too much.


 IV

 Now he's lighter than a feather,
 less material than snow.

 In the Duke's hunting lodge
 the stories fall in cryptic patterns

 Cold blows the north wind,
 Thick falls the snow.
 Take my hand and go, love

 Until the striped deer is back
 With its scholars and poets gather
 in the garden once more.
-- Diana Bridge
Gu Cheng was a young Chinese poet, one of the group known as the 'Misty Poets'.
He came to New Zealand in the late 1980s with his wife, taught at Auckland
University and bought a property on Waiheke Island. He committed suicide there a
few years later, after first killing his wife, and left behind a young son. Gu
Cheng was sent to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution to raise pigs.
'Obstinate child' is a reference to one of his poems. The penultimate stanza is
adapted from Waley's translation of 'North Wind', from 'The Book of Songs'.

A native of New Zealand, Diana Bridge spent a large part of her life in Asia.
Being a `diplomat's wife' helped her travel extensively in Asia (particularly
India and the Far East) and develop an insight into the socio-political
conditions. Her writing helped her create an identity of her own, and over throw
the tag of a diplomat's wife.

Juned.

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