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At the door, like a dog. / I waited for love. / The heart / was a station / where evenings stopped.

By Hua Xi
Poetry | Ha Jin, Poetry Tuesday
February 23, 2021


after Ha Jin

How do you look away from the night?
The house that has no windows.

They say if you want to live,
“most of your life will be waiting.”

At the door, like a dog.

I waited for love.

The heart 
was a station
where evenings stopped.

Outside, snow collects on the orange trees.
A snow that fills the invisible,
ancient forms. 

I crawl upstairs
to the bed that loneliness slept in. 

Follow the dark
through unlit streets.

As a child, I heard a doctor 
tell a pregnant woman 
endings look for a body to land in.

In a novel somewhere, a woman is waiting.

For an ending that arrives
in the middle of the story. 

My landscapes end in the long nights
my mother waited tables.

She would pause to stare out
at what I now understand is a door: 

to where this life contains your next life.

Those years gaze up at me
like a hound. 

The centuries watch 
as we walk off 
the sheer cliff of them.       

My eyes adjust to the dark,
but my heart never.

The poem’s title is taken from Waiting by Ha Jin. The poem’s final couplet is a response to the line “if sunlight is blocked out, your eyes must adapt to the gloom” from Jin’s poem “Incompatible”.