I was asked this summer, after my birthday, around mid August, to go up to Nan San (mountain) and perform something with Chongqing’s most famous and prestigious painter, Master Feng, famous for his paintings of grapes. I wasn’t really sure what it would be like, or what to do, or why I would be there at all, but I agreed in the spirit of cooperation, and the mountain is a lovely place to spend a day, anyway.
I decided to rework a poem, to fit the occasion, and performed it with Shaolin’s help, translating to Chinese for the crowd. Later, Master Feng gave a group of about 30 children a masterclass on grape painting, and then they all did a great (grape) job of painting their own bouquets of fruit.
After, we had a nice lunch, of wild mushroom soup, gathered by hand from the mountain, and were treated to a local Tujia people song.
Here’s the poem, Chongqing Juicy Grapes.
Chongqing Juicy Grapes – Jorah Kai
I pass the time browsing
a little story,
Chewing the words.
over and over.
It feels like I’m chewing
the same perfect grape
around my tongue
over and over.
I stroll around my tidy home on the side of a mountain
and leave its essence dripping
through the air in every room.
I perspire full-grown grapes at the gym and recite it.
I read it from HongYaDong bluffs into the river’s swollen belly.
I rap out the cadence onto a cupboard bursting with treasured books.
And when my two dogs look up at me,
I bow down to the floor
and whisper into four long, curious ears.
One is old and remembers.
The other is young and eager to understand.
I read it without listening,
I discover it without speaking it at all.
Billy asked me, did you take it?
I did, I made it mine to take.
It’s about a little piece of cotton
bound around my face.
Every time, I feel its touch
against my lips,
against my chin,
when I say it out the window,
that embrace travels around the world,
a message of hope.
Like a bird, with papery wings,
and in its beak, a bunch of
juicy Chongqing grapes.
重庆多汁葡萄 – 王凯