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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Epistle Poem

Dear Yarrum, I began to write you a letter
but the door bell went and was persistent,
so I answered. A request for the baby pusher
to be handed out the window for use by mother
and baby on some errand. I can only imagine
it is to do with the beggar in the street who
her husband befriended and offered shelter
via his wife, and left the beggar in my care as
we walked home to this block of flats on
the university campus. As we walked, she lagged
behind and begged off cops and soldiers and
the guards at the uni gates. I admonished her
in my best sign language, but she lagged further
behind until turning and walking away. To be
frank, that didn’t bother me, but I (dutifully)
rang and reported in. She came
pursuing the beggar lady, presumably to
offer help. Sometimes good intentions lead
to foolish outcomes—I feel it today in
my arthritic bones, but who can advise against
helping your fellow man? Here I sit, listening
to Dylan unplugged—Once upon a time you
dressed so fine …
thinking of the ebb and flow
of manna in my time, a rolling stone tempo-
rarily washed-up on these Chinese shores.
The beggars of this town all have the same
enamel large-size cup. They won’t let you pass
and grab at your clothes until you want to
flatten them, but a portion of good manners
and Western guilt withholds your hand. We cover
costs here, there’s nothing fancy in our lifestyle,
this week we work six days to cover the official
holiday next week. Yesterday my stepdaughter
fed the beggar lady noodles at her table in
a restaurant and offered her a job as cook.
Today she was to arrive for an interview
with the two housemaids, but didn’t show.
Instead, she was back on the street
begging, grabbing at the hand that would
feed her … There’s a million books in
a thousand languages attempting to
solve the puzzle of human existence, but
who’s to know. In Bali, they wear
black and white checks for the balance
and wrap this cloth about divine idols
who one could imagine may know better.
Yours in eternal puzzlement - Werdna


Anonymous said...

I like this poem a lot. Also pics of China.

cheers from jen compton

Andrew said...

Thanks, Jen. I wrote it after reading a similar style poem by Richard Hugo. And the pics - well, I've revived a decades-old interest in photography since I've been here: there is soooooo much to snap!