Ting-Jen Hwang was born and raised in Taipei, lived and studied art history and philosophy in Europe, and currently resides in Singapore.
Once described by her best friend as “made of air” (i.e. living above the clouds), she enjoys, most of the time, being a professional loafer/flâneur who is perpetually musing upon and inspired by beauty.
She has published two books:
Xü: Poems of Fei Xuei/絮:霏雪詩箋, a collection of modern Chinese poetry, and
Infatuation: Watermarks/浮水印:霏雪書箋, a collection of poems, images, diary, prose and short essays written both in Chinese and English.
Snow Leopard and Black Panther (For H.)
by Ting-Jen Hwang
The musky incense of nag champa, was what led
the snow leopard to the black panther:
her lustrous smoothness, the scent and warmth
of her fur and skin – an uncharted territory.
The turquoise half-hidden behind his long eyelashes, lingering shadow of long eyelashes,
was what led the black panther to the snow leopard: his quiet prowess
and elegant strength – disarming, surreptitious beauty,
the most arresting stillness.
The snow leopard softly cocoons the black panther
with ripples of golden kisses: she did not know the reason why; nor
did the stars in her pantherine night sky.
Pacing in passionate vexation, behind the invisible bars in her eyes,
the black panther lays her gaze upon the snow leopard.
With such agitation, a prayer and a plea encircle
the black diamonds scattering amidst her dangerously soft leaps.
Those sun-embroidered lines of the snow leopard’s timeless form
embrace and penetrate like a metallic thread, glowing, illuminating:
A frozen motion, thoughtlessness in sehnsucht;
a mind within, a mind without. A mind of no mind.
What melts the black panther’s restlessness
is the motionlessness in the snow leopard’s glance beyond
(but is what she perceives as beyond
truly looking backward, or rather looking inward?) –
As they flow together and walk together in the ceaseless waves
of Mo Chu’s deep sapphire, Po Chu’s avalanche white,
they meet, without intention of direction.
The quiescence and mutuality of infinity.
The First Poem (for David)
by Ting-Jen Hwang
(For my husband, whose lullaby is my breathing every night.)
All the secrets I do not share,
and all the secrets I tell no one;
all the secrets absent in my poems,
and all the secrets I do not sing, even in the silent song
of solitude permeating my veins
like the warmth and gentle scent of your amber,
these secrets are buried deep inside, within
the dreams of your belly.
They melt, and are reborn.
They grow wings, and they fly.
In the blueness of your eyes
is the light of a deep ocean that has lived
a thousand years, a thousand years of
meditative loneliness. In your hair, the golden amber grows
into a transparent flower, fragrance of the night.
The amber flower that connects your mind
with your heart.
One day you discovered a pale feather
of an anonymous bird, colour of a pale rose.
A rare feather,
exquisite and fragile, shining under
an old tree of glittering green leaves.
It was nighttime, but the sun was out.
Your one tender kiss awoke the feather, and turned it
into the bird she once was, in a past life she had already forgotten.
The rare and exquisite and fragile bird.
And she has lived with your heart, in your heart, ever since.
Your surrender to nothingness is expansive, and
the warmest embrace there ever is, ever will be.
Your refined detachment of the closest, dearest attachment of tenderness
It gives meaning to what seems to be void of meanings at all,
resembling a delicately and beautifully
cracked porcelain vase,
its slender neck holding all the secrets which are not remembered.
The unbreaking of a broken egg, in the most perfect shade
of pearlescent ivory, with
not even the faintest lines on a rainbow-hued seashell.
I realise in this moment we are regal.
We are angels.
Your elegance is the reddest of all the red peonies
blooming between our bodies and souls.
You say I can neither understand nor imagine. I close
my eyes and think of
the most beautiful desert moon, or the saddest
love poem, or our daughter
in your arms, in the farthest and nearest yesterday
of our tomorrow.
You spoke to my philosophy professor as if
he was one of your oldest friends.
You talked about Heidegger, and game theory,
and all the dilemmas of life, in a beautiful manner which transcended them all,
as if they were lines from an old poem you had written long ago.
You say the whole life is in The Little Prince, and that you
cannot admire someone who is not an acharya,
however brilliant his thoughts,
however great his legacy.
I look at this perfect man before me, with his
bluest blue eyes and think to myself, “I married
the one rare acharya I know.”
I am your heart, as you are my poetry,
mirror of my aloneness
the soundlessness of my melodies,
the attachment of my detachment,
the meaningfulness of my meaninglessness,
the nothingness of my very own self,
my undefined/undefinable otherness.
You taught me I am myself and I am enough,
in need of no more, like Cocteau’s Trinity
that binds my heart in the truest way it longs to be bound.
And so I write, different from how I have ever written poetry,
in the state of being and the state of breathing,
without striving and crafting,
as if I was writing
for the very first and the very last time.
All poetry is copyrighted to the author above and may not be reproduced without her permission.