渡葉 Leaf of Passage

Translated by Pingkwan Leung  1998


Is this a jade or a wooden canoe? Sailing through wails from both banks,
Only to be stranded near customs officers, amidst immigrants waiting in line.

Myths of Haida Gwaii at your elbow: Bear Father with young son sits at the bow
Looking back at the past; Bear Mother rowing hard, gazes into the future of her children.

The sharp-teeth beaver paddles away, the dogfish woman converses secretly with the mysteries of the ocean.
The Wolf, vying for position, tramples on whose back? The reluctant recruit aids in silence, clinging on.

Has our Chief with great vision disappeared from sight with his talking staff?
Under our eyes only the amphibious frog crosses over the boundary between two worlds.

Not an astronaut bringing home legends of space odysseys. Not at all.
Just a lonely father shuttling back with heavy twigs to build new nests.

Worries add to one’s age, diseases accumulate. Transit is never as smooth
As sages on blades of weed. See those mottled stamps on a suspicious passport?

Not so easy to roll a house into a backpack; lost forever are the familiar
Land and language. Departing, you imagined yourself a snow goose flying south,

Crossing the frozen earth in search of a warmer port? What one foresees
Are sneers from both soils: how can a leaf move that many woes?


December 1998


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