Wang Ping


No cloud or rain all night long.
Before the dawn broke, you strolled in again,
smiling, your face peaceful after three hours chanting. 
You listened to my babbling, my painful effort to bring out 
those faces from the High Land, but words fail when it comes 
to the unspeakable, my stories only phantoms of memory.
Once again you took my hand and pressed it to your lips.
You were also planning a trip to Tibet with a group of 
friends, you said, but your doctor worried about your heart.
I gazed into your eyes--where mist formed 
like wild horses, like stormy clouds running 
from peak to peak along the Himalayan Range--
energy that overflows its form and has to spend itself
--like your love, how you've loved this city and its people,
fractured and screwed up as it is, your love with such
intensity that it traveled eight thousand miles through clouds
and rain until it reached Tibet at the speed of light...

How strange to see your face everywhere 
as I walked down Second Avenue for the season's
last reading at St. Mark's Church--your face
on every trembling leaf in the late spring breeze, faces
of the dying in the light of a crescent moon
against abandoned walls, faces of Jersey
kids sticking their fat cheeks out of the sun roof 
of the rental limousine screaming in ecstasy, old man 
shoving his fist into his mouth to stifle a sob--
face of the rock
that measures 29,028 feet, the river of stars
splashing across the indigo face of the night
on the last day of May through wind and forest--
your face illuminated with a fire that swells from the gut--
your shirt, scarf, buttons, your hands,
arms, waist, thighs, all flying in different directions
in the heat of joy, not about air but earth,
about sinking--to the very bottom--where all is made of
the same substance--then something will happen--
a transformation from inside, a sunflower bursting...

You've been with us,
coming and going in the form of flesh and blood, your body 
besieged by the solemn, sad, angry faces of death,
your life a long preparation, a journey to the source.
We've been sleeping in time's hungry grip;
now you wake, having tossed away things, possessions,
knowledge, logic, to enter the soundless
  --the original call of all things.
Our remembrance, and yours,
all taken by the ocean, all given--
Your death is not a void,
  but love boundless.

The bird has finally reached its nest 
  in the sun--the key is hidden
   in the sunlight
              at the window. 

May 29, 97, Astor Place, Manhattan
May 30, 97, Brooklyn

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