I was inspired by The Orchid Pavilion gathering of 353 CE which was a cultural and poetic event during the Six dynasties era, in China. The gentlemen (42 literati) had engaged in a drinking contest: rice-wine cups were floated down a small winding creek as the men sat along its banks; whenever a cup stopped, the man closest to the cup was required to empty it and write a poem. This was known as “floating goblets” (流觴, liúshāng). In the end, twenty-six of the participants composed thirty-seven poems.
Wife, as my life fades with the closing
sun, weeds now overtake linen paths driven
into the wilderness,
I have no strength to fight them,
and soon you must walk this way alone
though my heart is warm still –
but later, I will watch for you
and know the crinkled nose on your dirty face
as your dainty fingers dig delicately
because you are such a gentle flower,
I know you would not want to hurt them.
I am sorry how high the weeds will grow
since there is no one to take my place or to walk
you across the orchid bridge, but it has such
a fine elbow, a kind arm hanging over the stream –
when you walk do not look for the rice cups
and scoundrel ghosts drinking Huangjiu –
they who always beat me – but there is no disgrace,
I wrote a poem – and since the current was
lazy, I wrote another and another and another –
especially for you.