cold mountain (16)

roads don’t reach Cold Mountain

I slip through church doors and under the arches of mosques like the sun creeping around a corner on a summer morning. At St. Genevieve’s they prayed in polyphony, and I wept like I could slake my thirst to join the music with tears. In Denver the immigrant African women let me sit in a corner, and so I learned to bend to Allah with them. In Helsinki all I found were Protestant churches, as spare as snow but still knowing, like cathedrals, a thing or two about letting in light, and I stood and watched the late afternoon reflected off the gleaming rows of silent pews. Among others. Among many. There is no road to the places I have been. There is no gate either.

For the Chinese of the poem, and Red Pine’s English translation with notes, see here, pp. 46-47, number 16.


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