“Dreaming of Fen River on the Banks of the Charles”


Below is a poem I wrote of my experiences from my recent trip to China. It seeks to capture the love and wonderful memories I had there with friends and family.

“Dreaming of Fen River on the Banks of the Charles”

I woke with a sense of distorted time:
A month was a year and a day stretched ‘til
It broke;
Even hours parted sea from sea
When I flew from home to home.

The flight of time between two lands
That seas of memories lick,
Seas that wet the shores of “I know”
And “I once knew,”
And the mysterious crossing of
Forgotten memories
Tug and pull on my soft heart,
Like tides swayed by the moon.

The world I left kept running,
Well wound, it kept on ticking:
Its people, its smiles, its pains
Blurred wheels of time,

The morning still fresh called out to me,
So I open my eyes to see
The sky so clean and so clear,
“Did you miss me?”

Driven by a question, I went for a walk
To meet the faces of the people I’ve yet to meet:
Foreign faces, familiar, fair,
“Did you miss me?”

At home but not at home,
In love but without my love,
My heart is in a distant land,
Apart from body by wind and speed.

There I saw something like a bridge
That connected memory and memories lost.
Back and forth I laboriously crossed
With vessels and with pots
Glowing pure color, pure life, pure love.

I lay between the land of forgetting
And discovering, that which I once knew,
Exhausted and burdened
By truth remembered,
I exhaled and fell asleep.

In the streets the traffic sings,
Kissing and crossing through smoggy air.

I wake to the taste of noodles,
The steam song of a happy pot,
A clink of glass—the slurp.
They beckon and they burst,
“You will hunger and you will thirst,
But no memory will ever hit the spot.”

So I search the vessels so full
Of brimming color and of light
For answers and for thoughts to
An overwhelming question…
Oh do not ask, “What is it?”
But let us go and search for it.

• • •

Wait a second! I found something. I found something
I’ve seen before. A love, the echo of a love
I’ve heard before, somewhere, sometime
Distant like a soft whisper
Through dim and dusty corridors.

But the sun shines ablaze
Over trees full foliaged, and the river
Rhymes with the streams of traffic.
“Stop thinking of magic.
Step out of yesterday.”

No! This love—this love feels alive—
It resonates.
I see from outside what I couldn’t inside.
[I see the old with new eyes.]
Shadows of former forms take shape;
They breathe;
They live.

The love that can never be repaid,
The sacrifice of unknown worth—
Foolish to think that there is a way
To repay.
Yet I never asked for it.
I never deserved it.
You gave it not ever
Asking if I wanted it.
But I wanted it.
I needed it.
I just never knew how much.

In the streets the traffic sings,
Kissing and crossing through smoggy air.

Sweet sounds, sweet songs, sweet scents of wine,
When shall we again entwine?
Your bright threads now tread
The landscape of my soul:
Rivers running through parched lands.

And what am I to do with these,
These vessels of pure color and life?
Have I found what I was searching for
In this loved-filled pot of clay?
To which land do I belong,
To memory or memories lost?

No matter, arise!
Walk toward new life, new hope!
Arise from slumber,
Carry the dream like a seed deeply burrowed.
Water it with those vessels so full,
Full of radiance and of color,
And wait and sing.
Then, only, will it bear fruit
So full of seed,

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