Poetry / June 2014 (Issue 24)

Taoist Forms in the Cross-Harbour Tunnel

by Timothy Kaiser

Long ago, Zhuangzi had a dream
A dream so real
He asked, “Am I Zhuangzi dreaming I am a butterfly
Or am I a butterfly dreaming I am Zhuangzi?”

Long ago, Plato had a dream
A dream so real
He asked, “How do shackles and shadows
Make fools of us all?”

And these two ancients,
Plato and Zhuangzi,
Approach each other
From opposite ends of a modern cave,
Step by bewildered step along the centre line
Robes billowing with each passing car,
When they spot the butterfly
Darting between headlights,
Following a path of one artificial beam
To one artificial dream,
Fumbling and folding and
Flipping to and fro
With every gust
From every double-decker bus.

And when they meet,
A tender embrace as Benzes bleep,
Plato asks Zhuangzhi,
“Will that butterfly ever break free?”
Zhuangzi asks Plato,
“Is that butterfly me?”
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