The Traveler Packs His Tent of Words
How quickly Yichang has become my home,
How dear the places where I cooked and slept.
But for us humans, all is to and from,
And nothing can be saved and nothing kept.
Just to sit down and eat we make a place
That is the center of a little world,
And merely the direction of one’s face
Becomes a kind of tie or anchor-hold.
A dream! To waken is to leave behind
The one we were before sleep’s little death:
It is the penalty of humankind,
The rising dark between our every breath.
But always, on a ship or on a plane,
I can put up the tent of poetry,
The flimsy fabric that keeps off the rain
Of loss, loneliness, and mortality.