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After Qu Yuan

[clock] 1-MINUTE READ ISSUE:  Autumn 1988
Your letter says you have a new job
“carrying cement on the shoulder,”
not so pleasant as planting trees,
but ten more yuan per month
for books, you who dreamed of ballet.

You write during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
You will sit tonight with your family
eating “a kind of moon cake”
and watching the moon, “the roundest,
biggest and brightest” of the year.

You write about Qu Yuan, known,
in the Warring States Period,
for his statesmanship and his poetry
of “grief and indignation,”
those steady companions against the times.

How far is the distance from my desk,
Li Qing, in its warm pool of light, to you?
Do you gather your books,
their covers stained by your hands,
take the crowded bus to Beihai Park again,
and squander your one day of leisure
studying English by the indifferent lake?


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