Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To Liv(e) : A Haibun

My Dear:

Upon reading your ground-floor comment regarding my decision to emigrate to Canada, “you're a dreamer with your head in the clouds, paying little attention to the reality on the ground,” I laugh… to tears.

It reminds me that Ingmar Bergman once commented on Elliot Gould, “It was the impatience of a soul to find out things about reality and himself, and that is one thing that always makes me touched almost to tears, that impatience of the soul.”

I miss you, miss the conversations we used to have inside and outside the theater, and miss your favorite actress Liv Ullmann and our dream.

autumn twilight
a butterfly darts in and out
of my shadow

It’s true that my immigrant life here is much tougher than I thought. It can easily thrust me into troubling circumstances that threaten to undo my “mastery” over those things that matter most.

Thanks for your advice: “don't let life make your heart hard; sometimes, you need to keep one of your eyes open and the other closed.” You told me that you've long found yourself mesmerized by Pablo Picasso’s painting, “The Head of a Medical Student,” a face in the form of an African mask with one eye open, and the other closed. I can generalize about the provocative poignancy of this painting: most people live their lives with one of their eyes keenly open to the dangers of the world and the uncertainty of the human condition; their other eye is closed so they do not see or feel too many of these things, so they can get on with their lives.

fight after fight
against loneliness --
waning moon

I don’t want to drag you into our decade-old debate again. But, is this the kind of life we’re going to pursue after spending years together reading, seeing, and discussing so many artistic works on life and death?

Your Ullmann once quoted Bergman as saying, “Perhaps there’s no reality; reality exists only as a longing.” For me, my longing is reality.

falling off a dream I become a butterfly


Love,

Chen-ou

Oct. 22, 2003


Published in Frogpond, 34:3, Fall 2011