The Wei Ming stands there quiet as glass;
You know it has been there in ages.
It heard of emperors and dowagers.
And the screams of the unquiet
Echoed on its placid face, yet left
No ruffle nor crease upon its quiet.

Kuomintang and socialist blood murked
The crystal face but left unbroken,
Unshattered the tranquil rest that lay
Beneath the surface of the green Wei Ming.
A history marched here, tread under boots
The water’s peace and Buddha rest.

But water’s peace has always won.
You stir its depth. You unravel its dark
Bed of debris and mud and crawling slime.
It churns its damned innards as you pass;
You squirm, you turn the other way and say,
“What murk!” And quietly it settles back to rest.

The Wei Ming is a teacher of the soul
Restless in perpetual perturbulence.
Even the Buddha would have envied her.
Tha rage of winds and torment of floods
Sweep over her and furrow her polished face.
But when all is over and the devil has moved
To disquiet other faces, the Wei Ming rests.

Teach me the quiet of your peace, Nameless.
Lake, the secret way to be motionless
In motion, to be tranquil in the swirl
Of fury—to rest my mind above the storm
While twister and fury murder about my feet.
Get me to the heights by sinking into your depth.

Wei Ming.

Beijing, China
6 October 1993

Note: Wei Ming is the largest man-made lake on the campus of Peking University, Beijing, China. The phrase means “No Name Lake” or “The lake without a name.”

Montage Vol. 10 • December 2006


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