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Towards Sunset

Five Prose Poems

by Hongping Liu

1. A Dream of Sunset

I used to be swayed by considerations of loss and gain. One day, I happened to understand what the fiction is. Life is like the magician who does magic tricks. He can turn a basin of fire into a lotus flower. The lotus flower is seen, but it does not really exist. I would rather be a traveller than a sun-seeker, enjoying the sunset in twilight, neither losing nor receiving it.

2. Land, Livestock, Life

Life: snow land is awakening under the sun, listening to birds singing, buds whispering, and livestock lowing.

Hundreds of cattle and large numbers of sheep graze on the grassland, humming or bleating in a language that is intelligible only to themselves. Horses walk in the fresh air, white and fine, blowing gusty breaths into damp bushes and surprising birds into taking flight.

Tiny finches whirr and wheel; so do sparrows and starlings. Hawks and eagles hover motionless on the air currents.

Lush green grass is dotted with wild flowers peering out of fringes.

A handful of mud is suggestive of potential grain. Hold mud in both hands, and we smell something reminiscent of home. Leaning on the mild, bare chest of Mother Nature, let’s smile and weep, chatter and work...

Through summer, life slips into autumn, and ripens its works like the rice field in the autumn sun.

3. Sorrow and Joy

Sorrow: My beauty is of the moonlight. My song is from the nightingale. My eyes are the lake without living water. I can weep with other sufferers.

Joy: My beauty is of the morning light. My song is from the lark. My eyes are full of angels’ smiles. I can rejoice with my companions.

Sorrow: My road is long and sinuous. There swirls the violent wind, with flying stones and sharp brambles.

Joy: My road is the mellow in the sunshine. There fragrant roses bloom, with songbirds. Goodbye, sorrow, goodbye!

At this time, a King appears between them, and they both kneel down before the King.

Sorrow: He must be a happy King, for he is crowned with glory and honor, and his limbs are crossed with victory. I no longer sob but rejoice.

Joy: He must be a sorrowful King, for his crown is full of brambles, and his limbs are crossed in pain. I no longer rejoice but share his sorrows.

The two have at last merged into the king’s body, sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.

4. Poetry and I

You are the only sailor who could bag me, holding me in custody at the deep bottom of your ocean and making me work like coral insects. I have never thought that I have been creating a poem of life; a solitary islet is inching its way upward in the sunshine.

You are the only knight who could control me, casting me into desert and having me compose a melody of a vineyard.

You are the only hunter who could hit me. I’m truly stuck in the hunting game, beset tightly by my pain, my strife, and driven to sing as cuckoos bleed. The suffering that one creature once suffered finds an echo in some other creatures. My song is finally merging into your chorus and beating merrily with your rhythm.

5. My Prayer

This is my prayer to you, my lord: don’t let my earlier faith be crushed by the wheels of years and the struggles of life.

Let my heart light up as a beacon beaming light into the sea even though waves surge upon waves, and winds surge upon rain.

Let my soul never become the slave of wealth, power and worries.

My lord, let all my life flow into a simple and joyful melody to its eternal home like a stream running cheerfully to the sea.

Copyright © 2012 by Hongping Liu

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