April Diary 13: wildflowery

This entry is part 14 of 31 in the series April Diary


out on a spring wildflower-gazing expedition southeast of here with my Mom all day. we saw twinleaf, cut-leaved toothwort, trout lilies, hillsides covered with Dutchman’s breeches and spring beauties, and more hepatica than I’ve ever seen in one place before

a surprisingly large, intact stand of eastern hemlocks included stumps that were still alive at least a decade after they were cut, kept on life support by their adjacent relatives, continuing to grow scar tissue over the amputations year after year

we talked about life and death, family and friends, the state of the planet etc. on a gorgeous (and WARM) day

it’s undoubtedly good for my poetry to take a day off from it now and then. i might have enough brain power left to bang out an erasure poem before i go to sleep but it isn’t looking good, and i’ve abandoned another poem i’ve been working on off and on for the past two days because while it was highly clever it lacked any original insight, and while i’m sure i could still get it into decent shape i know it would never spark joy. so following Marie Kondo’s advice I am throwing it out

in today’s mail a new translation of a new-to-me contemporary Chinese poet, Zang Di: The Roots of Wisdom. it looks great. here’s part of the publisher’s description:

Zang Di (臧棣) is widely acknowledged as one of the leading poets and literary critics of his generation. In this new bilingual collection of his work, The Roots of Wisdom, he uses rich, emotional language to explore the natural world, including his beloved Weiming Lake at Peking University — his “Walden.” The lake has been a muse for him for more than 30 years. While Zang Di’s detailed observations often begin in nature, they go on to unearth insights into human psychology, relationships, contemporary life, and the mysteries of language.

Zang Di maintains a prolific writing practice (he composes one poem each day), and his unique style draws not only from nature but also from his extensive reading of Chinese and Western literature, and his travels through several continents.

here’s how the title poem concludes:

The wind arrives, and its casualness is conflicted; in the name of white clouds
are traces of those wild geese you like. People’s words fly, with no concern for direction.
The rain departs, and the vastness is lonely not paltry.
Your tears are rainbowed bandages.
These tangled things are again and again the apex of emptiness,
but they still plant their roots deep in a life of poetry.

overall, Zang Di’s poetry appears to have a higher density of abstractions than i’m used to, but with just enough concrete imagery to give me something to sink my teeth into, i hope

Series Navigation← April Diary 14: cardinal, coyote, owlApril Diary 15: all my best friends are books →

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