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Self-Chosen

/ Ruisi Shu

Poetry — 2 min reading time


A fortnight ago,

     when the wind blew gray and nigh

he left his doors to enter

through the sullen quiet of the forbidden moor

in search of something he could call more his own

     a quest, a journey, love or adventure’s sake

his destination along the horizon.

Beside him existed neither roaring seas

nor sublime cliffs

No trials almighty to be vanquished by heroes

But there is nothing quite like the open sight

of lilac heather amidst sage brush; still,

he looked, and turned, and averted his eyes

His gaze affixed to the line of light

     breaking ahead of him.


At a fortunate intersection of brook and path

was he met by a lady of comely dress

Said she,

with a gesture to a pair of weeping willows, and a nod

     to her lawn manicured with the riches of a thousand men,
—Welcome to my grounds, do join me inside,

     I’ll put on a kettle of tea and bring out my good honey

     I’ve not much company, you see.

     I’ve waited so long for someone to talk to

          Won’t you sit down with me?—

but our fellow laughed and

denied her with neither a glance o’er her valued domain

     nor o’er her tender smile and eyes.

You’ve not what I desire, said he

     I’ve no time for distraction.

Then farewell and continue on, she said,

and looked the other way

as he returned to his path in the weeds.


After some days, and nights, and afternoons too,

he wandered into an assemblage of persons, all ages

Said they,

with gestures to a flourishing table of hearty laughter, and nods

     to the greenest pasture in the land,

—Please join our feast, celebrate with us a strong harvest

     we’ve meat from our animals and wine from our grapes.

     and you need not starve a day with our bounty of crops.

     Come, take a look around,

          we’d be delighted to show you the grounds—

but our man smiled small and

rejected them with neither a look o’er their precious gardens

     nor o’er their glorious fruits and blossoms.

Your food and drink are not what I pursue, said he

     I’ve no time for distraction.

Then farewell and continue on, they said,

and turned their backs on him as he fell back into step

in pursuit of his ever-chased light.


Rolling hills, scarlet birdsong, jeweled dew

Dandelions nodding their heads

All to the side of his path

And a small mouse, scurrying by, invisible

Accidental companion to the one forging

     his way through the landscape

Asked another—

     for what does he abandon such opportunity?

     for what does he ignore such chance?—

The winds echoed his inquiry

     as did the persons left behind

     silently, in the depths of their minds

But our fellow’s sight remained steady.

And he walked,

     and walked, and walked

          and found nothing as the grasses passed him by
Satisfaction he sought

and for the welcoming calls he cared naught

A lonely journey, self-chosen

And the moor, well.

She said good riddance.

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