‘Something always has to be done next.’ Bernard in The Waves

In a Chinese poem written three thousand
years ago, a husband watches his wife
enter a field of grain. I can see it.
I remember reading it. She walking,
he observing, he jotting it down.
In this, there is no something, no always,
no has to, no next.

The artist who made up Bernard on
Shaftesbury Avenue and gave him words
is with me this evening. Every phrase she writes
prompts its opposite, of itself, unwritten.
So she is one with the Chinese poet
of three thousand years ago and I
am no longer in a hurry.

Richard W. Halperin