A Poem (and a Painting)

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Flower Festival: Feast of Santa Anita by Diego Rivera

New Year

a child carrying flowers walks toward the new year
a conductor tattooing darkness
listens to the shortest pause

hurry a lion into the cage of music
hurry stone to masquerade as a recluse
moving in parallel nights

who’s the visitor? when the days all
tip from nests and fly down roads
the book of failure grows boundless and deep

each and every moment’s a shortcut
I follow it through the meaning of the East
returning home, closing death’s door

Bei Dao

Translated by David Hinton and Yanbing Chen

Image: Flower Festival: Feast of Santa Anita by Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886-1957) October 13, 1931. Encaustic on canvas. Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. MoMA Permanent Collection

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