This poem Out of the Depths is from my unpublished poetry manuscript “Passing in the Middle Kingdom. The poems are about life in Mui Wo, Lantau, Hong Kong (2008-2014), and cover the terrain of home, belonging, parenthood, love, age, family, time, memory, marriage, and revolution (Umbrella Revolution, 2014). Many of the poems have been pre-published; I am now seeking a publisher for the manuscript.
I began writing the manuscript after I decided I was tired of writing and wanted to quit. So I quit. But it didn’t last very long, and I began again to write, mostly poetry. I turn to poetry when I have no words, and when I have no expectations. I also find with poetry that I often enter a type of state of being that is frequently described as one of being in the moment, or as a kind of flow wherein ideas and feelings merge and yield a relief. Misery plus euphoria. I know that there are some writers who say “Oh, I’ve never wanted to quit ever! I live to write!”, but I was never, and am not that kind of writer, unfortunately. My relationship to writing is both habit and a compulsive need to express myself. A metier. At times it is entertaining. Frankly, I’ve been doing it too long to speak of it in glamorous or metaphysical terms.
I have not been to Italy since that trip with the Phillips Academy Andover Cantata choir in 1982. We received the little key of Florence, a small metal pendant from the then mayor of the city. I ate gelato and visited the famous cathedral. I saw the David. I wandered the streets with my friends singing Italian songs (at the time, we joked that this was sort of like Italians coming to a town in the US and singing ‘ ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’). I sang in the church. I held a belief in a Christian god at this point in time–I believe that this was linked to how I sang. I believed the songs. I didn’t understand the Italian Renaissance paintings of Christ, Madonna and Child, (that took years later and a superb docent for me to get into that artwork), but I liked the displays of flowers that were in front of the paintings that lined the street. I drank cheap red wine. I bought two pairs of leather boots–a bronze pair and a black pair in the markets. I fell in love. It was a memorable trip.