A World Asunder
With time’s progress, come thoughts of swift reform:
Talk of walls as great as those of China,
Trumping wanderers seeking a door’s whose hinge
Is locked and unmoving. While he looked on the sea,
Yao Tzu felt quite ill, yet he held his guitar
Stroking the cords gently, on the quiet beach of algae.
For music was calming, so he stared at the algae,
Playing tunes heard of old, melodies reformed
As expertly as he had learned with his father’s guitar.
Father had been a respected man, politician of China.
Honourable till his end, at the hands of the sea.
Sailing was a passion of his, life hanging on a hinge.
His travels had brought him far, many cultures hinged:
He saw mountains of rock, regions of sand, rivers of algae.
And just as many kinds of people, seeming distant, like the sea.
Yet also kindly fluid as he came to know. Enough to reform
His ideas on those foreigners so unlike men in China.
“Many branches stemmed from one tree” my dad had sung, guitar
In hand as he taught my young self how he viewed culture. The guitar
Was father’s instrument of choice. He compared it to thought as hinge
To door: “To play it swings out a clearness of mind so superb, kindred of China,
Europe, Africa, America, the world – they all understand…” A piece of algae
Then washed up at my feet, changing my thoughts. As I reformed
My playing position, a new song came to mind. This one about the sea,
With its great but sad vastness, for we seldom know its reach. The sea
And our grasp of it is only as accurate as we see its horizon, just as the guitar
And its music is as clear to us as has been performed until now. To reform
An opinion or prejudice is infinitely hard, especially when it hinged
Races and Nations together. Do we think of the oceans’ algae
Drowning silently in its bottomless depths? Or fragile fine china
Close to breaking yet invisible to most? Can China
Feel the suffering of its great populace entirely? The sea,
Primordial element of life is key to this lock: To dive near algae
Explore the dark chasms down under, find music in this chaos: like a guitar’s
Universal melody overtaking all noise around, is the solution. To hinge
Countries and respect cultures, for we live on the same water, is the needed reform.
With that last tune, Yao Tzu finished his China ballad, dropping down gently his guitar.
As he prepared to go home, he took in the salty sea smell once more, hinging
His father’s memory to this little algae beach, envisioning a world to reform.