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My Friend - the River

Hello my good old friend!

We met centuries ago

in China by the Yellow River.

I was a wounded warrior, a Mongo

lying on the edge of your bed

half naked and half dead.

Your pure magic healed me

although I was really mad.

Tired of fighting and murdering 

innocent people, I had regrets. 

It was more than insane.

What I did not know I buried them.

Finally I questioned the authority:

Aren’t we all brothers and sisters

coming from one big family?

 

In the end, I threw away my swords 

determined to sit under a big tree

searching for meanings if there were any.

I swore that I would never get up 

until I could make sense of all these.

The confusion was too great

and my body got weak.

I must let everything be

killing was no longer my cup of tea.

Slowly, my Will to live came to an end

but my spirit continue to exist.

I reincarnated into another family

living in a different territory

with a couple of happy parents

who adored me dearly.

 

And you, my friend - the River

was right there with me.

So I visited you religiously

paying back for your good deed

ever since I started to walk and peep.

Sometimes I brought you flowers

spreading them all over the edge

decorating your body beautifully.

You made me see myself pretty

and I was naively happy.

During the Gold Rush in the 1850s 

my father was offered a job in Sydney

Australia, so we moved immediately.

We got another house right by the sea

with many rivers around the city.

 

You were then called the Sydney River

fifty feet away from where I lived.

You kept running while I was growing 

from a red-haired Irish girl 

to a sophisticated business lady.

You knew that when I was 30

I felt in love with a Chinese.

We got married and had babies.

Due to social pressure indeed

and prejudice against the minorities

I became critical with my family.

My husband ended up despise me

and my children hated me.

So I spent my old age alone

with deep sorrows and misery.

 

Well, that life finished sadly

another one came quickly.

After WW2 ended senselessly

everyone was traumatized enormously.

I was born in a Chinese family

too bad my father didn’t want me.

I was not what he expected me to be

a boy who could carry the name 

of his legend and ancestry.

But, my mother could use me

as a gofer and a worker bee.

So I fought with my father daily

and helped my mother gladly.

We children grew up resenting 

our parents as a dysfunctional family.

 

And you, my friend - the River

was the only place where I wanted to be

alone at night with myself in peace

no matter how hard my day would be.

We were so much alike

calm and collected 

never complained or feeling lack

but constantly running towards the sea.

Occasionally, I saw your power

when you came down from a peak

roaring like hundreds of lions

and pounding on the rocks ferociously.

Otherwise, you flowed gently

like the cosmic dance

with music that never ended.

 

Courage was given to all

so I was reborn again 

when I fled to Florence of Italy.

And you, my gracious friend

was called Arno, the River.

You were magnificent

elegantly stretching your body 

all around Tuscany.

I was delighted to see  

you who knew all my history.

At night, we gazed upon the stars

like lovers who always appeased. 

You inspired me to be

a painter, a poet, and a singer

living like a bohemian or a hippy.

 

I have fallen many times

like pebbles sinking to the sea.

Periodically, I do surprise you

like a phoenix rising above its ashes  

with glorious victory.

Many lives, many names

many experiences and memories.

Now, let me tell you more about me

that my life feels like a mystery

with one longest journey.

As I’m drawn to be like you 

I love that you always reflect 

everything as it is to be.

But, beneath all beauty 

there is only dirt to see.

 

At last, I live peacefully 

in the land of the free

with many rivers and trees.

I’m reborn again in a small community

as a simple person who is meek. 

And you, my good old friend 

is now called the Nith River 

always running ahead of me.          

This time I finally realize

that I’m you and you’re me.

We’re ONE and that’s all there’s to be. 

But every ripple and whisper

are cathartic to my soul and memory.

While you’re running 

I sink beneath you, humbly.

Ida Tong / Dec. 31 / 2023

Grow Your Vision

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