It was the spirit of Tu Fu from
the Tang Dynasty who gave me
strength to endure my cancer.
Now, years later, he appears again,
in a book of translations by a ninety-
nine-year-old. This time lamenting
how the autumn storms tore thatches
from his roof and how he woke to see
patches of straw fly into the river. In
the morning, he could see parts of his
roof tangled in the trees. If not for the
cold, he would have preferred sleeping
under the sky. On the page above his
poem is a print by Han Gan of sixteen
horses in various poses. If I could, I’d
tie a poem to the saddle of each and
send them back to the great one who
didn’t know he was great. I’d send
a long bow that could scarf its way
through history to let him know
that the red shock of his heart
still lives on.
A Question to Walk With: Name one figure from history that you’d like to know more about. Then, go find out more.
This excerpt is from my book of poems, The Gods Visit.