oh to be there

her hand held high
the proverbial V sign
the dress discreetly
just above the knee
the shoulder bare
her face tan
from days out hatless
under the sun
and that smile
lighting up the hills
surrounding her
and my heart
yearns hopelessly
oh to be there
beside her

oh how different

it’s easy to identify
with the longing
of those ancient Chinese friends
of mine
but oh how different
to feel at home
here in self-imposed exile
among people more alike
than different
from those from whom
I came

For Ku Yen-hsien, A Poem for Him to Give to His Wife by Lu Yün

I on the sunny side of Three Rivers,
you in the gloom south of Five Lakes,
mountains and seas vast between us,
farther apart than bird and fish–
my eyes envision your lovely form,
my ears still ring with your soft sweet voice.
I lie down alone, full of far-off thoughts;
waking, I stroke the collar of my empty robe.
Beautiful one, sharer of my longing,
who but you will ever hold my heart?

translated by Burton Watson