Friday, May 18, 2012

Chen Li

An Open Cage——for John Cage

You are a born cage,
so are we——
writing our faunas in the destined space.

But your bird is not the nightingale that eats ice cream and cotton candy;
yours is a magical bird that eats screws, rubber, wood,
spitting out piles of fantastic notes,
hitting the fence around it,
shattering the glass that blocks it,
and like excavators, digging out every throat that has been
buried by habits.

It also eats the wind, drinks dews, and hangs the cage
upside down like a basket,
filling it with sounds of wind and water,
sounds of vehicles and people,
with mushrooms,
with silence——

with silence, like an empty
conch shell
receiving all the sounds of existence.

Your clock is twelve radios telling different stories.
Your calendar is musical scores arranged at random.
To your bird nothing is discordant. It can’t tell
which is more musical——the noise of a truck passing by a factory or
the noise of a truck passing by a music school.
It enjoys the biting of gears as much as it welcomes
the kisses of trees with wind or the dialogue between hammers.

A mechanical bird flying with a cage,
a wound-up bomb of notions,
you respond to the posture of falling leaves, the speed of running water
with lonely but clear heartbeats,
and on an afternoon when all strings contend to be heard,
blow open the world with
deafening silence——

blow open the cage of the world,
and make us hear the open music.

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