Far-away fabulous birds

APRIL 28 04

I was wondering today sitting in the garden whether I could get a paulownia tree to grow, to attract a fenghuang bird to perch and bring luck. But of course the fenghuang bird will not come to a corrupt society. Yet in myself I feel very far away, closer to where the fenghuang bird is. Occasionally I turn on the radio and hear the news and think the world is having an Apocalypse, or at least will very soon. But then I think I am very far away from that world, I have withdrawn, I am closer to where the fenghuang bird is than to the place where it will not perch. And I watch my bean plants grow, and my tomato plants. I watch spiders spin webs and peacock butterflies settle on the paving stones, and the seeds come up. And I turn the radio on occasionally while cooking, quiet so I don’t pollute too much the outside world where the birds sing through the open back door these hot days, and I hear about coffins being unloaded from planes and politicians talking about things they think are important, and I turn the radio off and listen to the birdsong coming through the open back door instead. And I read my books in the garden in the sun and make notes on people living in trees and the fenghuang bird not coming. And I read about clowns in old Peking and how to purify gold and carve white jade. I talk to my next-door-neighbour about lilacs and cats, about anthills and blackberries, about death and it raining under the ocean.