Two Poems by Clara Hsu

On the Edge of the Forest
(on the train from Berlin to Prague)

On the edge of the forest
where it begins
where it ends,
shadow stretches toward the sun,
rain dances with drizzle.
Grass grows into trees,
and the trees
yield
to butterfly kisses,
the light touch of a rabbit's feet,
and sigh,
their leaves gently shaking,
exfoliate essence
once hidden in the depth of the veins,
and the wind
blows,
lifting incandescent dust,
sprinkling awakening,
and the forest
swells,
forgetting its boundary,
steps into the unknown
where wild things grow
with valiant effort
to preserve madness
under the sun.

On the edge of the forest
where it begins
where it ends,
comes a flower dressed with dew.
Comes the grass, the trees, the wind, the rain,
to give their sister soft embrace.
As dusk falls and dawn unfolds
her enchanted presence envelops.
And the poet comes with a song of disillusion,
lies down beside her,
and finds
simplicity and purity
on the edge of the forest
where it begins
where it ends.


Last Night in Prague
For Michal

Stranger, listen to me.
I have not made love in eight years.
My wife had a child with another man,
but I am bringing her up as my own.
I stay in the marriage for the innocent.
I am not with anyone
because I want to be sure about love.
You said I must take risk.
I think I am rude to tell you this,
I never thought much about Chinese women
until tonight,
as I look at you,
your eyes and your oriental face
captivate me.
When you ask me to go to the teahouse,
I accept.
I just want to be with you a little longer.
Why? I don't really know.
Would you like to see the music club,
or go to a disco, or have a Czech beer afterwards?
This teahouse is a fine place.
You are the tourist leading the local.
I would have never known a place like this.
You said the man you are with is just a good friend.
Then perhaps I am allowed to fantasize a little.
I brush our fingers briefly as you pour my tea.
It gives me a little pleasure,
my eyes are moist for a moment.

It's midnight.
The teahouse is closing.
Shall we wander a bit
and take the taxi home later?
Your friend wants to catch the last train instead,
and you need to pack tomorrow.
In front of the apartment
we shake hands warmly.
But please may I be so bold
to tell you once again you are lovely,
and to kiss you lightly on the lips.
Farewell, stranger.
As I walk down the deserted street
you turn to our friend and say,
"Poor man, he is lonely."
But the man, knowing my desire
replies,
"I think he really, really likes you."

Clara Hsu