from The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever

Leonard Durso

Moses’s feelings were strenuous but not sad and he did not remember the skimming fleet at the ten-minute signal before a race or the ruined orchards where he hunted grouse or Parson’s Pond and the cannon on the green and the water of the river shining between the hardware store and the five-and-ten-cent store where Cousin Justina had once played the piano. We are all inured, by now, to those poetic catalogues where the orchid and the overshoe appear cheek by jowl; where the filthy smell of old plumage mingles with the smell of the sea. We have all parted from simple places by train or boat at season’s end with generations of yellow leaves spilling on the north wind as we spill our seed and the dogs and the children in the back of the car, but it is not a fact that at the moment of separation a…

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Tune: “Immortal at the River” by Su Shi

Leonard Durso

Drinking at Eastern Slope by night,
I sober, then get drunk again.
When I come back, it’s near midnight.
I hear the thunder of my houseboy’s snore,
I knock but no one answers at my door.
What can I do but, leaning on my cane,
Listen to the river’s refrain?

I long regret I am not master of my own.
When can I just ignore the hums of up and down?
In the still night the soft winds quiver
On the ripples of the river.
From now on, I would vanish with my little boat,
For the rest of my life, on the sea I would float.

translated by Xu Yuan-zhong

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