Red Lanterns

Red lanterns sway on the verandah
the bucket moon fills up
hiding stars behind a frosted Taiwan sky
Blanket silk and dream tanks overflow
new ritual fish each day and
pilgrims feed them

The weeks subside in late sleeping
rustling in the hall
Tassel flags and fans float on starchy music
this chill, the wind birds coast on
A winter away, the letter says
it's colder everywhere this year

Temple gongs clang at nine
Another languid night of
surprisingly extreme nothingness
No space no news no time no solitude
in such curious human profusion

"Fever is popular," I'm told
this, walking a season of chunky stone roads

       (the difficult path is less crowded;
      that's the way it's said over here
      but it's all relative)

The phone is red, the silk
Red, and red the flags, fans and
      long tree tassles that
      ripple out red on the barely still lake
touch lightly parted lips about to speak

Ellen Sander
Xiamen, PR China January 2003

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