After Cycling Near the Lake Inside a Glassed-in Room I Open Su Tung P’o’s “The Terrace in the Snow”
By the time Friday just disappeared
We were all gazing at the grey
Circling the sliver of our moon.
Somehow we thought Exjaafjallajokull’s plume
Might have drifted out that far.
Now all of northern Europe
Has floating ash so sharp and hot
No one dares fly into grit like that.
Awake for hours, I open blinds
Of where we sleep when
We can’t rest past the last late shows.
Outside all the birds are tuning
Up for full fledged orchestra and chorus.
I pick up all our
Limbs and leaves and half eaten
Apples that have landed on our deck.
The light comes later to our back forest
Burning off the damp spring fog.
We can then count on
Crows to awaken all the drowsy
Dogs to push us out of bed.
The air is thick with pollen dust.
Daffs and jonquils bloom in every yard.
We’ve spotted big black flies
Who arrive before the tiny ants find our little home.
Pretty soon I’ll be deep in dirt
So we can feast on summer.
It’s too soon for sun bathing.
My legs still ache too
Much and I wonder what I’m
Doing trying to still write.
We’re locking the doors more
If those murderers try to find us
DeWitt Clinton is the author of two books of historical poetry and six chapbooks. His poems and essays have recently appeared in Storytelling Sociology: Narrative as Social Inquiry (Lynn Rienner Publishers), And What Rough Beast: Poems at the End of the Century (Ashland Poetry Press) and Divine Inspiration: The Life of Jesus in World Poetry (Oxford University Press). The above poem is from a new adaptation of Kenneth Rexroth’s One Hundred Poems from the Chinese (1971); four more poems from the project were published in the November 2011 issue of Cha. Clinton writes, “I’ve tried to honor and respect these classical Chinese poets by resetting/adapting the poems to the contemporary Great Lakes city of Milwaukee.”