Cloud travel is a project commissioned by Lee-ka sing and was part of YYZ Dialogues Seven Toronto Artists in response to the poems of Leung Ping Kwan. Presented at INDEXG Gallery in Toronto and the Central Library in Taipei.
Cloud Travel, chromogenic digital print, 3"x28"
Clouds are amazing, but you can’t live there.
Our plane’s wings harvest
the houses far below,
a mountain chain,
Our old haunts in the city are left way behind
as we enter cloud banks.
Pretty enough, as I say, but no place to live.
Taipei, Tokyo, Honolulu:
we’ll pass through darkness and light,
come out on the other side of the tunnel,
sleep through it, in fact, and wake up.
Then there is light,
pink scattered in the sky up ahead,
beginnings of blue,
darkness failing and gathering,
blue growing steadily lighter,
oldest friendships far in the lees.
I’m bringing my favorite calligraphy
but I’m alone here, high in the emptiest air,
Tang poems in my carry-ons,
pieces declared fragments of a strange star,
clouds becomes boulders
that turn again back into clouds,
bits and tufts…on the east side dawn,
on the west rain, sunshine and rain at once.
Docking in the night sky over Tokyo,
no bell welcomes
the guest’s lonely boat.
The trees slip backwards in my window past a station
while others sleep and start restlessly
and where are we heading?
“Coffee, tea or wine?”
until I’m tipsy
in might-be rain outside,
no, not raining,
only parts of our own little star falling.
It’s getting bluer out now, through hardly visible,
then shadows again.
Sleep while you can.
No, we’ve got to come down somewhere,
show one of this world’s passports
and stand in line,
present the baggage of your life
carried from country to country.
Daybreak for sure
without old rooster’s crowing,
the blue sky of Honolulu under our wings,
exactly half-way between tropical suns and northern snows,
having crossed yet another border.
Snow’s great but it’s also a famous killer
but now I’m sweating in too many clothes.
No one’s as free as he wanted to be.
You only seem to have made it to another space and time
but there you are still strapped in your seat.
You are flying
but you must land, like snow, eventually.
but the rocks in your drink won’t melt
till the last snows in the Spring.
And when is Spring?
When the warm chill of the glass at hand holds sunshine and rain,
which eventually flow east and west on their own.
Out my window the universe has turned the flowered trees to bronze pillars
when we get to our point of entry
and they sound like cold, metallic sheets.
You’re still searching for something
in the morning clouds that have as yet no stories.
The sky yellows and then gradually fades
to patches of pink light.
One searches further and further
ahead in the brightening day.
Could I pitch this glass as well as past griefs?
Will all really be renewed in the Spring?
ordinary days and connections in the world;
then how plain is this sea of clouds.
Don’t they expect to be the world’s rain?
I’m watching; I’m waiting,
brightness ahead showing on the cloud’s tops guarantees sunshine
so why do I find myself thinking of never melting snows?
Spring will come and snows melt
but up here I’m traveling in a space without seasons,
into empty space ahead without sunshine.
I put out my hand and touch the cold glass;
people are still starting in restless sleep
from day into night,
from Spring to Winter,
in the middle of the night
with all that droning horsepower
What are these fallen petals blown at me?
Am I supposed to bring Springtime back to the snows?
Or will the snows turn me to numbed cold?
One imagines toasting a spring
and a willow stroking the wine glass.
No, wait; somebody picked up all the glasses.
you study the quiet desolation outside,
the clouds changing resemblances
their colors soon disappearing.
The clouds are amazing, but you can’t live there.
Leung Ping Kwan