In deepest night, a dream returns me to my homeland,
She sits before a window, and sorts her dress and make-up.
We look at each other without a word, a thousand lines of tears.
Must it be that every year I’ll think of that heartbreaking place,
Where the moon shines bright and bare pines guard the tomb?
Dreaming of My Departed Wife (江城子) by Su Shi (苏轼). Song Dynasty.
Ten years after the death of his first wife, Wang Fu (王弗), Su penned a ci poem after dreaming of her at the Mi Prefecture. “Dreaming of My Departed Wife” remains one of Su’s most famous poems. Su and Wang wed when Wang was just sixteen years old, and she bore him his eldest son, Su Mai (蘇邁). Wang often assisted Su with official work and advised him.
Su was a prolific writer, medicinalist, artist, and statesman of the Song Dynasty. His poetry is considered a vehicle for understanding Song culture, politics, and travel. His critical writings of the government often led to his censure and exile, though he continued to produce written work throughout his entire life.
his dinner down on the table. A bowl of white rice with an egg mixed in, the
simplest of meals, nutritious and easy enough for a tired fourteen-year-old to
make. The thud of porcelain on wood echoed across the empty house.
were out and the night chilly as autumn settled over the Leaf village. The wind
wailed as it squeezed into the gaps of windows worn down by a lifetime of enduring
storms. Kakashi could not close them, both because they did not physically budge
and because the only light he had to see by came from the public lamp post
across the street. The power in his house had been cut two months ago.
before the table, shoulders slumped. He had been living alone for years but
loneliness had never particularly bothered him. Tonight, for the first time, it
did. He wished that he could say that he was alone by choice rather than
because there was no one left.
been dead for so long now. His teammate had never been over at the Hatake
household, had probably not even known Kakashi’s address, so it was hard to
imagine him there, hanging out. Minato-sensei had his own home and family to go
back to at the end of the day. Soon he would also have a son who would need all
of his love and attention. Kakashi had no place intruding there. And Rin…
was still too fresh, but she would have been good company to have over on a
night like this, when the ghosts were out and about. Warm, cheerful, happy Rin,
who’d had such a bright future ahead of her.
have valued his friends so much more. He should have told them that he
appreciated them, at least once, somehow. He should have—
“Mmmm, is that tamago gohan?”
sucked in a breath, but dared not look up. He knew that voice. His sinews and bones
and guts knew that voice, despite the fact that the last time he heard it had
been years and years ago. Kakashi had tried to make himself remember that slow,
affectionate tone so many times before, only for it to escape his grasp like a
dandelion in the wind. Yet here it was now, clear as if its owner was right in
front of him.
“You should eat before it gets cold. Come,
happened. It had finally happened. Shivering and lonely, cold, exhausted and
hungry, Kakashi had finally broken down. Because that was his dead father’s
voice and his dead father’s shape sitting before him at the small dinner table.
about him looked welcome and inviting and Kakashi was overcome with such
longing that he didn’t even pause to think what purpose could have brought
Sakumo back to him. He just wanted it – whatever it was – to last for as long as possible, for his father to sit
there, in the shadows, next to him, with his ruffled hair and rumpled clothes
and caring smile that carved lines into his cheeks that Kakashi remembered so
well from so many lazy afternoons spent telling his father all about his day at
as he was told. He sat and picked up his chopsticks. He was not sure that he
could eat. A painful lump had lodged itself in his throat. He was even surer,
though, that he would not be able to speak, so he obediently pulled down his
mask, opened his mouth and shoved in a mouthful of rice.
“Tell me about your day?” the spectre asked.
looked up. Sakumo was watching him back, sunken eyes half cast in shadow
catching the molten glow of the gas lamp outside. He was exactly as Kakashi
remembered him – more lively even, because this time Kakashi knew to soak in
every detail of the man that he had once taken for granted.
“I wouldn’t know where to start.”
“Tell me anyway.”
And if Kakashi’s
laughter brushed the hysterical he could hardly be blamed. He laughed and cried
and forgot all about the cold and darkness as he ate his dinner and told his
father about anything and everything that came to mind, from missions to
friends to whatever the dogs had eaten earlier that day.
morning, the sun rose and lighted on a teenage boy slumped over a dinner table,
fast asleep. His lips were curved in the barest of smiles. He was still alone,
but not as much as before.
The Horse Thief (盗马贼) dir. Tian Zhuangzhuang (田壮壮). 1986.
Within a Tibet facing the heat of a devastating famine and the cusp of Chinese occupation, devoted Buddhist and horse thief Norbu steals from a temple in desperation. His family is resultantly expelled from the clan, and Norbu attempts to undergo reform to protect his loved ones. The Horse Thief focuses on three central themes: family, Buddhism, and the stark vastness of the Tibetan countryside. Portraying these ideas through slow, hypnotically fluid visuals and little dialogue, Tian Zhuangzhuang demonstrates his masterful capability to weave an iconoclastic narrative with experimental form.
Known for his notoriously subversive films, Tian has been the subject of constant state censorship, especially with regards to his masterpiece The Blue Kite, which critically examined ramifications of the Cultural Revolution. Tian was sent deep into the countryside in hopes of quieting his voice; however, the lack of a watchful governmental eye only granted him more exploratory freedom. Only when his films were smuggled out of China did they attain merited renown and universal acclaim.
Never had there been a time when sound, color, and feeling hadn’t been intertwined, when a dirty, rolling bass line hadn’t induced violets that suffused him with thick contentment, when the shades of certain chords sliding up to one another hadn’t produced dusty pastels that made him feel like he was cupping a tiny, golden bird. It wasn’t just music but also rumbling trains and rainstorms, occasional voices, a collective din. Colors and textures appeared in front of him, bouncing in time to the rhythm, or he’d get a flash of color in his mind, an automatic sensation of a tone, innate as breathing.
The Leavers by Lisa Ko. 2017.
One morning, eleven-year-old Deming Guo’s undocumented mother Polly leaves for her job at a nail salon. She never comes home. Deming is adopted by two white professors who rename him “Daniel Wilkinson” and attempt to mold him into a truly “American” boy. Lyrically poignant and bitingly raw, Lisa Ko’s debut novel The Leavers exhumes themes of family and community, intergenerational emotion, and the oft-erased brutality of the immigrant experience.
Told from the perspective of a growing child, it is at once a bitterly tender bildungsroman and a reflection of structural sociopolitical faultlines in a jarringly torn family. Though Deming’s tale could have been overlaid with heavy themes of immigration and despairing politics, Ko centers the narrative around the child who’s lost a parent—at the end of the day, the perplexity, gravity, and irreconcilable belief of being left and lost is the focus of this elastic, penetrative story.
my mother she gathers crows’ eyes at dawn. i find loneliness easier when it’s just me and no voices. lights out. sometimes the birds sing their last songs while the sun is rising. it’s hard to break the surface, my dreams are full of crows’ wings. i hang between two fading worlds. children make shadows on the wall during blackouts. i lose myself like a crow in the night.
This picture is 7 pictures put together: 2 pictures for me. Since I was the one holding the remote for the camera shutter, I had to pose myself with the remote in each hand so I could use the ones with the open hand. And 5 pictures for the sheets. I bought this twin flat sheet at a thrift store for $3 specifically for this photograph. It only covered so much space, so I had to position it on one side, flick it in the wind, then repeat on the other side. I then composited those “flicks” together into one big sheet of movement.
A lot of photographs were taken for this, but having my dad as a peanut gallery/watch dog/audience member, I managed to get what I needed and leave within an hour. Not to mention the entire day I waited for this perfect sunset light.