清明: 沉思: 87-year-old Wuhan Patient Saying Goodbye to His Doctors
87 years old and weakened by Corona
In some cultures, I’m not supposed to live
But here I am, standing before my doctors and nurses
Men and women from Shanghai, Nanjing, Beijing…
They said goodbyes to their families, their own lives
So I can live, playing “Thais-Meditation”
87 years old, my sun is setting already
I’ve been given a second chance to say “Thank you!”
Via my violin: chen si—meditation
沉–sink–思– think. A meditation is
To sit in silence is to look into stillness
To see and feel through a heart心 xin
A fire burning underground
Its force keeps blood flowing, keeps joy burning
87 years old, some country has sentenced me to death
But here I am, my hands cradling my violin
As if holding 心–a heart deep
Under the water…between shells
Between hands— beheld as a pearl in its birthplace
Where the heart 心 exits through 劳宫— the center of palms
The exit of heart meridian–laogong—a place for labor & love
That comes only after the sweat and work with our hands
In the fire, sequoias open its seeds, then sprout and rise to the sky
Till the world resumes its beauty & peace again…
Is it the only way to live—every form of life as precious as us
No matter how young or old, rich or poor, dark or bright, big or small
No matter a human, a beast, a bee, a tree, a blade of grass…
87 years old, my body & mind slow down, maybe
But not my heart–心—still the seat for love
Pumping gratitude,70 times a minute
To my children, men and women
Who gave up their own families to keep me alive
Today I play Thais: Meditation 沉思 chensi
In the belly of a monster, in the eye of a storm
This body has lived through wars, plagues, regimes, hungers, cancers…
But my eyes have never looked away from those in need
My mouth never stopped speaking justice & truth
My hands always cradling the heartstrings of violin for hope
My heart forever vibrating with love, 70 beats a minute…
87 years old, some declared my aged brain not worth saving
If elephants lose their matriarch’s memory, how do they find the path to water?
If the First Nations no longer have Grandma’s voice, who would pass their story?
If a college drives out outspoken teachers, how can it produce independent thinkers?
If China casts out their elders, who’ll keep our 5000 year-old teaching?
If a civilization kills its own Mother, who will say it won’t eat its young?
If no yesterday, where is today or tomorrow!
87 years old, still standing
On 清明, on the day for ancestors
I play Thais Meditation, each note plucking my heartstrings
To thank my children, men and women from Shanghai, Nanjing…
Who stand with me, in gratitude for the last ray of sunset
The dead is never dead
Today, the dead speak from their world:
We must not mock natural disasters, human calamities, diseases.
We must do no harm as teachers, doctors, soldiers.
We must not forgive those who endanger the country as president, endanger soldiers as general, rob its people as administrators.
We must carry our duties as intellectuals: speak for the people, fight for the country in crisis.
We must not profit from national emergencies, natural disasters, sick and hungry…
As I stand playing, praying
On the day of Qingming 清明
Till the world becomes Clear and Bright again
- This is the sequence of the poem “A Doctor Watching Sunset with His Patient in Wuhan.” The old man is a violinist. When his doctors are going home to Shanghai, he plays “Thais: Meditation” to say goodbye.
- 清明: qingming, the day for the Dead in China, always on luna calendar the 4th day of the 4th moon, to remember and honor the ancestors, to clear and brighten the future.
Ping Wang published fourteen books of poetry and prose among which My Name Is Immigrant, Life of Miracles along the Yangtze and Mississippi. Recipient of NEA, Bush, Lannan and McKnight Fellowships, director of Kinship of Rivers project, professor English at Macalester College, she is also a dancer, photographer and installation artist.