Poems of Meng Jiao
Shaking the Willows
(Written plucking a willow branch)
So very weak, trunks easily shaken.
You look and look but cannot find their strength.
It's the wind that turns them into drunken dancers.
All day long, they never stand up straight.
When I asked the flower girl to sing,
She stopped smiling in her bright mirror.
We know this woman. She's the older woman out west who told Meng Jiao, with the absence of a gesture, not to let the screen door hit him in the butt on the way out. The gesture was the offering of a willow branch that symbolizes one's wish that the departing could stay. Which she didn't. He was heartbroken and carried her torch for years.
So now he's in his fifties. And he plucks a willow branch for someone. And he remembers her. Not that the older woman had been a singing girl. Not that she had stopped smiling in her makeup mirror. But it's all here, and much much more, in a flower girl and some windblown trees.