Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chinese Shadowplay

I saw an ancient shadow play

In Shanghai, China, far away.

I could not understand the songs

The warble, clatter low and long;

The locals too had lost the words,

And told me so with smiles absurd.

They asked me how I came to see

This spectacle in front of me.

But I was lost in puppetry –

The flattened models hard to see

That flashed behind the stretch of skin

And bayed like ghosts above the din.

The form was strange, from long ago

And gave me stories I couldn’t know.

My Chinese tender, knowledge weak

I made up stories so they’d speak.


I saw a man behind the screen,

Just his face and his hand

Clutched about a bow

Dragging across an erhu.

He rocked with the music

Lost in the melody,

Pentatonic, ebbing about the puppets

Projected on the skin.

But he didn’t see the stories either.

He didn’t see the intrigues of principates.

He had his own stories.

I couldn’t imagine them,

But they sat there on his face

And didn’t need to speak.

posted by ferret at 6:11 pm  

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