LAURA BARRÓN

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"

Cloud Travel

 

Clouds are amazing, but you can’t live there.

Our plane’s wings harvest

the houses far below,

a mountain chain,

a coast.

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,

pale yellow,

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.

Forget it,

No, we’ve got to come down somewhere,

pass documents,

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.

You’re toasting

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?

I remember

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,

all lost

beyond clouds

in the middle of the night

with all that droning horsepower

roaring alone.

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.

 

In silence

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

 

December, 1981