老殖民地建築 An Old Colonial Building

Translated by MIchelle Yeh  1986


So much dust flying in the sunlight and
the shadows, scaffolds everywhere, planks enclosing
the ancient colonial building
as if demolition is its fate, not a brick to remain, but maybe the basic
form in the end would still remain.
Maybe when the sour bitterness in the soil is churned up the
dignified domes and wide corridors would still face blocking walls.
Maybe when knocked down
the stairs would lead to many more ordinary buildings.

Along the corridor, the potted flowers are sometimes in bloom
sometimes closed. Further down, to where I can
photocopy an article, I glance at the lily pond, crooked
reflections, the clock tower's round windows amidst duckweed.
Washed and scoured day and night, they are no longer ignorant
their purity may be murky. Innocent goldfish
bump around looking for dying water lily, roots still
entwined. Their orange scales now dark now shiny
their slightly open gills breathing on the window panes

Images of ruins put in a new formation - will it
give rise to a new building? The bust looks ridiculous.
Power always seems so absurd. A chance meeting on the corridor.
An occasional glance at the lily pond. In the midst of changes
our thoughts neither evade the ripples nor bend in the breeze.
I know you don't believe in banners or fireworks in the sky.
These broken words of mine don't claim to be realistic
nor are they the centre surrounded by high rises, just a pond
of shimmering water with floating signs.


October 1986




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