A shaft of moonlight pierces the curtain
In my concrete abode, a flare lighting the way out
The ephemeral promise draws me
like a firefly I seek my hopes.

The defeaning chorus of cicadas
consumes me in the darkness.
Out in the fields, the grains cultivated
What was promised eclipses the night
A permanent night light bathes me
as the swarm of stars engulfs me
from the infinite black canvas above
and the mirror pools below
The glow of a mysterious wonder,
of unattainable hypotheticals, and an ever-burning hope.

A small school in a small town
On a small star floating in a small galaxy
a mere twinkle of light on the intergalactic Scale.
7 billion unique collections of plus balls and minus balls
all captured in a single photon
all capable of being snuffed out
through a freak encounter of entropic particles.

So what are we?
Missionaries of intelligence as we profess,
blessing a heretical world full of its absence.
Yet the dumb laymen,
a grass here, a beetle there, a star out somewhere
form quite the coalition in the collective.
The most powerful chain reaction system
which, try as we might, none have budged,
let alone mastered the intricate controls.

Still, stubborn ball pits we are, we fight.
We live, we laugh, we cry;
we shout, we scorn, we swindle;
we worship, we wonder, we wander;
we plow, we bow, we push through.
For what else do we have, but this?
To what end do our toils, our conflicts, our triumphs march?
Does the council of stars twinkle with guilty pleasure as we squabble and undermine?
Does it chuckle in amusement as we dream and surpass?
Are we the interstellar Kardashians,
forever doomed to entertain, never to ascertain?

So we live, we laugh we cry;
we do all this and then some,
for that is our only protest,
our only insurrection against that condescending gaze
from on high and out far and all-around.
We struggle in our journey
struggling to reach beyond the twinkle at the end of the tunnel,
struggling to see the unseeable,
struggling to make sense of the unsensable,
struggling to stake our claim amongst the unreachable.

Photo by Kieran White on Unsplash

Photo by Kieran White on Unsplash

The dim glow of my bedside lamp one late night reminded me of a visceral sensation when I taught in Taiwan last summer. I couldn’t sleep and ventured out into the open field behind the open-air school as a full moon lit the way from above. In that moment, surrounded by long patches of grass growing freely and plots of rice fields stretching out as far as the eye could see, I felt eerily close to nature and as a result, became aware of my insignificance in the face of such unfurnished beauty, complex simplicity, and underestimated import. I was inspired by that memory to capture the paradoxical nature of those thoughts and feelings in this piece. I also tried to incorporate bits that paralleled ιœε€œζ€, a poem I had to recite countless times in Chinese school, that I never understood when I was little which now provides a pointer into the nostalgia and yearning that this memory provokes.

As always, if you have thoughts or reactions I would love to hear them!

Thanks to Jamie Wong, Lilly Shi, Andee Liao, and Lucy Lai for reactions and feedback.