Night Train

The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden.,

From The River Merchant’s Wife
Translated by Ezra Pound

Past midnight,
past city lights,
past country fires,
the train to Xi’an
snakes haltingly
through deep tunnels
past terraced fields
and ancient bridges.

I imagine you, waiting,
in a smooth silk robe
like the merchant’s wife
in an old poem.
But you are pressed by duty
and clothed with care,
and have no time
for butterflies.

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