Last year I wrote this diffuse poem. The setting is the large ice-mass that perhaps once bridged Siberia with North of America. A couple are migrating across this inhospitable realm. Imagine the pair dressed in furs, with all their worldly possessions in tow – tent, working dogs, blankets, food and household items tied to sleds. In the poem they are travelling towards the dragon’s gate. This endpoint motivates the woman with hope; it propels the man through sworn duty and allegiance. Both are so focussed on this outward destination – a gate in all its majestic and architectural wonder – that they are not aware of the small stirrings of life. The “soft pearl” is a growing child who embodies the para-reality of their journey and relationship. In contrast with the gate, a settled and solid structure, the child is something organic that will change and is less definable.
Twenty Auspicious Cranes, 1112 On the day after my birthday, 2013 The Emperor Huizong opened his palace to the ever-busy common folk. I sat on my bedroom floor. Twenty white cranes appeared flying in the sky; two alighted upon the palace gate. A brown-winged bird darted into my room; there he hovered, over my bed. Auspicious, confirmed Huizong’s counsellors. Symbolic, suggested by sister when I said it was a robin.
For more about the sighting of the twenty auspicious cranes during Emperor Huizong’s reign (1101 to 1125), read either this extract from an article by Peter Sturman or these few paragraphs from “Art in China” (pg. 57) by Craig Clunas. The event, which supposedly occurred on the eve of a palace open day in 1112, was documented by the Emperor in memoir and as a poem. His words accompany a now well-known painted image of the scene. See the image reproduced above.
My father’s name was Robin. The rest of the poem I shall leave to your imagination.
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Image courtesy of Wiki Commons.