Remembering Wen I-to

Author of Red Candle; executed at Kunming 1946

Putting on my flag-ship colours,
My work boots, my worn gloves,
I go out to greet you, Dark Visitor.

You went by the way of The Western-bank.
You will rise, in that same place – this time
Carrying the whole of China with you.

Brother poet, the chronicles have been
Re-shuffled: thankfully
Your works are no longer set alight.

No! I do not wish to cause discomfort – but
The news I bring is… desolate.
Millions now join you in exile.

Confidentially, there are no safe crossings,
And reason drifts with the river wind.
We must turn again from the T’ie-an-men.*

All is circumspect, my Dark Visitor.
The garrisons of greed are treacherous and
Conduct slavery quite openly. The Globe…

The Globe of precious change has shrunk
Ten thousand times since
You blessed it with your tears.

As you prophesised, the ‘dead water’ has risen.
Peking’s paper-ghosts are the same
As their Western counterparts.

You said… ‘Build a bridge! … ‘Cross over’!
Instead, they built a star-ship to heaven.
A red sun so bright
None can see their way back.

I go out to greet you, Dark Visitor.
Your old war-cry at my throat. Our white flag
Is no surrender – it’s a soiled heart
Tattered by grief.

* The Gate Of Heavenly Peace

Stefanie Bennett, ex-blues singer and musician, has published several books of poetry, a novel, and a libretto. She also worked with Arts Action For Peace. Of mixed ancestry [Irish/Italian/Paugussett-Shawnee] she was born in Australia in 1945. Read other articles by Stefanie.