by Arthur Leung
'Rain' uttered with a sigh, a wind through lips,wu gu ren
ends the verse – no more friends.Yang
sounds like the name of my neighbour,
pencils a fly on my collar, I watch the whiteboard.
Yang-guan? A place once upon a time, teacher says
(not Yang-jiang daddy takes us for hot spring).
Teacher reads Li Bai, chuang qian ming yue guan
I think of nanny, the full moon above starfruit
lanterns, my wetting the bed next morning.
Home. I dig out the bluest pieces for the tower
of my Lego castle. Mom removes the books
from my schoolbag. Dinner finished, eight o’clock,
I do Chinese, write ten times the characters taught
today, dong and yue – "look like the sun rises
behind a tree, and a new moon with a sleeping face";
memorize the numbers: six eight forty eight,
six nine fifty four... chant the nine-nine table
as I watch my idol Kenny sing on TV.
Bell rings, I put away the drawing paper,
fingers soiled with crayon. Chinese teacher comes.Chun ye xi yu
, spring night welcomes rain.
Tang poems, why always in the rain? Teacher
asks me to recite Du Fu, chi ri jiang shan li
"Think of the sky red, water and hills as ribbons."
I stand straight, read slowly aloud the words
like colour Lego bricks scattered on the floor,
not making up anything. I can’t see the moon.Notes
From the last line of Weicheng Song
) by Wang Wei (699-761), a Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty. The whole line reads "西出陽關無故人" ("West of Yang-guan, no more old friends").
The opening line of In the Quiet Night
) by another Tang poet, Li Bai (701-762) – "床前明月光" ("A gleam of moonlight on the foot of my bed"). 春夜喜雨
, by Du Fu (712-770).
The opening line of a jueju
(poem consisting of a matched pair of couplets with each line having five or seven syllables) by Du Fu – "遲日江山麗" ("The beautiful river and hills in late sun")