Li Po’s poetic heir explains why
he destroys his poem after reading:
gifts are only given once, and I imagine
those torn papers floating downstream
or sacrificial flames engulfing verse,
rising smoke lyrics for the gods to enjoy.
Why can’t poems be given more than once?
Each reading–a sown garden of rock and sand:
the hard elements remain but with wind
and days the pattern will change.
I’ve reread my favorite verses many times.
What would I give to hear them read anew
by creators long dead and gone? Yet their words
live beyond the short years of their lives.
As lovely as that gesture is, I want
to gather those torn pages, mend them
with strong fast silver threads. I want
to press them between my palms
like the bright petals of plucked dandelions.
I long to keep what’s given.
Poems may be lost to time
but a single reading is not enough,
not for me. Not for me.
Words, like breath, are too precious.
They change the world
with each exhale.
Happy November! And if you are participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, Happy Novelling! If you would like to be writing buddies or just check out my progress, I go by ‘ganymeder’ on the NaNoWriMo site.
I’m concentrating this month on my (already work-in-progress) novel, but my posts will still drop here once every two weeks and my additional Patreon posts once a week. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or requests, please let me know in the comments, and have a great holiday!
*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Universal License.
**This is a reaction poem inspired by the poet Sony Ton-Aime’s performance of his gift poem at Latitudes Poetry Night September 2019.