Chengru He

Poems of Chengru He


The gift of today is
eyes of the tree

who dedicates to me
a world slow and deep.

Persimmons fall, autumn ends,
the soil narrates a tale of time.

Birds take off from the water, too hurried
to bid farewells to a damp dream.

A man walks out of the tent.
His pipe was left at yesterday.

Feet are invited into the soil.
Wind baptizes memories.



The banquet is held at the tunnel
underneath the bottom.

The artisan sewed up a flute
with moonlight fine and soft.

A wooden table, long and rough,
set with morning dew, lotus roots,
murmurs. Time crawls above.

The tea returns to leaves. In darkness
a note relieves. The musician
turns into a black bird. No wings.

Waterweeds are humble and low,
dare not to make a move.
The crowd of leaves awaits a lotus.



A chorus by the water
Could be any river or stream

I wander like a vagrant
dragging the shadow of my own

deaf and awed
I tumble at the strange forks

An ancient tribe they are
An obscure gesture comforts the wind

Fruits of shrubs
Pierce into unspeakable pain

Sooner or later I will join them
As the shadow that opens the light

They count candlelight and count again
Become reflections of running water and time

No longer will I topple
In the dusk when raspberries are ripe

The familiar tunes call back the child
who stole a white lotus in a line of Tang

Though steps waver
They lead to the virgin snow of life

A chorus sings in silence



The past is air, right here,
a dripping tap, old windows, the sea.
I find you through dreams,
through each embarrassed verse.

The feminine strength, youth and breath
of my burning hair.
I cut a drop of water. Running stream.
You shade the window. The big tree.

The growth rings, some sparse,
some dense, are a myth,
like the swing of teenage shadow,
swaying away from the window,
to the sea, to the endless sky,
where I would fly.



Now I realize how much I loved traveling
As a young child, when street lamps were dim
And the wind too soft to catch
The sea is an enormous dream

On cloudy Sundays
My father would shake hands with a ferry
We sailed between dock and dock, and did not get off
Or follow the waves that came to shore

I just learned how to walk without staggering
And still talked to the army of ants before rain
A daughter sailed with her father, until an anonymous hand
put a cloak of snooze on waters and streets

The whistles summoned insects and me
Loud, piercing and masculine
I dropped a song as we hurried back
The captain’s beard was winking

The boy steals a white lotus in a Tang poem
I sent it back to the blue waves
He was my first friend who lives in words
Like Pan, he does not grow or age

I stared at the waves and they spoke to me
Ripples on the surface of a dream
Morning would visit and kiss our foreheads
Petals would rise and float away

My father helped me onto the bow
High and lean, like each lonely road
Someone in white robes riding a camel
Figures and figures dancing in the blue cradle

I sensed my father’s fear as he loosed hands
And took a picture the moment I smiled
At three I felt the chill in the wind
As a traveler does

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