As I Step Over A Puddle At The End Of Winter, I Think Of An Ancient Chinese Governor
by James Wright
And how can I, born in evil days
And fresh from failure, ask a kindness of Fate?
- Written A.D. 819
Po Chu-i, balding old politician,
What's the use?
I think of you,
Uneasily entering the gorges of the Yang-Tze,
When you were being towed up the rapids
Toward some political job or other
In the city of Chungshou.
You made it, I guess,
But it is 1960, it is almost spring again,
And the tall rocks of Minneapolis
Build me my own black twilight
Of bamboo ropes and waters.
Where is Yuan Chen, the friend you loved?
Where is the sea, that once solved the whole loneliness
Of the Midwest? Where is Minneapolis? I can see nothing
But the great terrible oak tree darkening with winter.
Did you find the city of isolated men beyond mountains?
Or have you been holding the end of a frayed rope
For a thousand years?
And yet another winter walk, late March, end of winter. Officially it's spring, but here there is still abundant snow, and more in the forecast. There have also been huge puddles. Slush. Ice. You name it.
So, it is 2013. So far away from 1960, from 819! Still, we hold the frayed rope. And ask for this kindness or that one, from Fate.
Maybe it matters less that Fate answers, but that one's friends see and acknowledge the frayed rope. One's companions on the journey. All of us writers, creative types, those of us seeking calm things, those of us making our way through whatever gorges, so often fresh from failures. It's almost spring again.