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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 10, Number 4, December 2016
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Patricia Prime
Auckland, New Zealand


Beijing Bookshop

under the spell
of dancers in the square
waltzing to old tunes
we become wallflowers
watching from the wings

In Beijing, we ask our guide to take us to a bookshop where we can buy Chinese poetry books. I buy two books in English for a few yuan: The Poems of Li Ho and Al Qing’s Selected Poems. Most of the books I can’t read: the Chinese language sings its secrets beyond my eyes and ears. I trace the shape of words, listen to the guide as he reads poems I can’t understand, woven with a fine thread, painted with a sable brush, carved in marble. I sound the words ineffectively, but their beauty remains with me.

far into the evening
tiny birds in cages
sing
to the stars
their songs of freedom

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