I have been working for some time on a series of poems describing a typical day in my life here in Baiyin. Now I know that poems should stand on their own and that if I need to give explanations of what I've written then I haven't written well enough but, because I think people might find the background interesting, for this series I will be adding a few notes along with each poem.
So - here's the first one. It's called "All Through The Long Dark Night" and technically it isn't about my life in China at all. It's more of a scene setter; a kind of "previously on..." summary of the last season for those who missed it. It's also quite accurate in that I do dream a lot more than I used to and I do dream a lot about the past. Given the severity of the break I have made with that past, it's probably inevitable. I lived, for example, in the same house for forty five years and now it's nothing to do with me - sold and gone.
Hardly surprising that I dream.
All Through The Long Dark Night
All through the long dark night I dream my life anew.
I dream of gas-lit rooms and secret corners.
I dream of my grandfather standing in the garden.
I dream of remembered schools and forgotten school-friends.
I dream of hiding in the library.
I dream of standing at a window looking down.
I dream of the campus view and the clock tower.
I dream of the lecture halls and the lecturers.
I dream of leaving it all behind.
I dream of all the jobs I lived and all the jobs I hated
I dream of every time I turned the rudder of my life.
I dream of every new course I charted for myself.
I dream a drunkard's walk.
I dream a dark dream. a dream of death and dying.
I dream of fifty new lands and fifty kinds of forgetfulness.
I dream of standing cold and numb at a graveside.
I dream in silent sequence.
And I dream that all those days are gone; behind me.
I dream that when I wake it will be another time and place.
I dream that the past has no grip on the future.
And I dream my life anew.