Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: For Tu Fu

Mark-Nepo-July7
It was the spirit of Tu Fu from

the Tang Dynasty who gave me

strength to endure my cancer.

Now, years later, he appears again,

in a book of translations by a ninety-

nine-year-old. This time lamenting

how the autumn storms tore thatches

from his roof and how he woke to see

patches of straw fly into the river. In

the morning, he could see parts of his

roof tangled in the trees. If not for the

cold, he would have preferred sleeping

under the sky. On the page above his

poem is a print by Han Gan of sixteen

horses in various poses. If I could, I’d

tie a poem to the saddle of each and

send them back to the great one who

didn’t know he was great. I’d send

a long bow that could scarf its way

through history to let him know

that the red shock of his heart

still lives on.

A Question to Walk With: Name one figure from history that you’d like to know more about. Then, go find out more.

This excerpt is from my book of poems, The Gods Visit.


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