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.
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.