Wong Phui Nam (b. 1935)
Spring Night in the Imperial Chancellery
On the eve of a court levee
(After Du Fu)
These walls, ablaze all day with a show
of flowers, now begin fading into dusk.
In its deepening gulfs, thin cries of late birds
tell of their pushing into darkness still.
Stars thicken. Brightening into fierce grains of fire
over the open doorways, they come close to the touch.
The moon, still low-hanging, a breaking orange flame,
will soon brighten into a bursting radiance in mid-sky.
In the hollow silence of these halls
I start at the imagined turning of the high bronze doors,
at bridle-bells drifting in brittly on a draft.
There is the sealed memorial for the morrow.
Shut out from sleep, I ask constantly about the hour
but fail to hasten passage of the night.
by Wong Phui Nam
from Ways of Exile (1993)