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Koloa Town Shower Tree: Planted in December 1985
koloatree.jpg
Photo: Karl Lo | August 2, 2007


LETTER FROM CHINA:  NARITA 



May 18, 1985

Saturday, 4:40 a.m.  


Yes, it’s morning in Japan,

And like yesterday

The sun woke us up with its rising.

It’s the same sun, Lehua,

That we watch at sunset in Hawaii.

However, if you were here with us

At Hotel Nikko Narita, Room 1049,

You would try to convince us

That the Japanese sun is bigger and

More radiant than the Hawaiian sun.


Yesterday we went to Tsukuba

To experience EXPO ’85.

The lines of people waiting to visit 

The pavilions look

Short

Because of the ingenious routing of people

Through mazes instead of straight lines.

The people keep walking 

Instead of standing in place.

There is a great deal of merit

In moving people through the mazes.

They get some exercise, for one.

And walking lessens boredom.


The theme of Mitsubishi’s pavilion is

WONDERFUL WORLD, BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE.

A friend who walks with a cane

Waited for us at the entrance

Seated comfortably on a chair

Which the ushers brought out for her.

“Wonderful world, beautiful people” indeed.


The Fujitsu Pavilion’s theme -- 

WHAT MANKIND CAN DREAM 

TECHNOLOGY CAN ACHIEVE -- 

Expresses Exposition ‘85’s message:

Harmony between human society and

New technology is possible.


And Japan’s society of the future

Visits EXPO ’85 by the busloads.

One bus brought beaming kindergarteners.

You would have liked without reservations

Their bright yellow uniforms and caps--

As radiant as Japan’s rising sun.


The school children, Lehua,

Both younger and older than you,

Are quiet, orderly, and attentive.

Their uniforms are a symbol of equality.

And the hair of the young boys

Are cropped: they need no combing:

It’s a lesson in humility.

Vanity is absent when every boy

Has a Telly Savalas haircut.

The senior high school boys seem

To graduate from the cropping classes:

They grow their hair to manageable lengths.

Still, they conform:

They stay in uniform.


P. S.

It’s now evening and we saw

The setting of the Chinese sun.

We flew this afternoon on Japan Air Lines

For Peking -- now called Beijing.

Flight time from the land of the rising sun

To the home of the Peking duck was four hours.

(1985)

LETTER FROM CHINA XII: TREES

Governor Ariyoshi, the people of Hawaii 
Applaud the First Lady's One Million Trees Project! 
Garden Islanders eagerly look forward 
To the completion of the project in December 
With the planting of a shower tree 
Near the Koloa Plantation Sesquicentennial Monument.* 

We visited Beijing, Tianjin, Xian, 
Nanjing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Guilin, and 
Now, this Monday, the 3rd of June, 
We are in Guangzhou, which you visited 
On the 23rd of May. The busy cities of China 
Are painted in our memory in differing picturesque quality 
But with a common motif: TREES! 
We saw the miles of trees that line China's highways and byways.

The stately poplar trees on Beijing's Airport Road 
Greeted us upon our arrival on Saturday, the 18th of May, 
Standing at attention like people along a parade route. 
The snow pines that grace Nanjing's Imperial Road 
Would be a lovely promenade of lights at Christmas, 
Lighting the way to sycamore-lined Sun Yat-sen Road! 
The columns of cypress trees standing like sentinels
Along the train route to Shanghai line the tracks of our memory.

The tall eucalyptus trees, also called swamp mahogany, 
On peaceful and scenic Maluhia Road 
Welcome visitors to the South Shore of Kaua`i,
Their arms clasped in warm aloha,
Their heads bowed in graceful obedience to Mother Nature.
This one mile Tree Tunnel may be short 
Compared to the long stretches of trees throughout China
But these are special trees spanning the decades since 1911,
And their grace makes them Kaua`i's natural cathedral.  
(1985/2007) 

*Note: The monument was unveiled in July 1986, not having been completed in time for the first Koloa Plantation Days celebration in July 1985.

Tunnel Tree @ Maluhia Road: Koloa, Kauai, HI
treetunnel.jpg
Dennis Lo Photo | 100710


LETTER FROM CHINA III: 
THE FORBIDDEN CITY

We toured the Forbidden City --
The site of the Imperial Palace and
The Temple of Heaven.

I dare say that the Chinese emperors
Ruled with elusive wisdom.

The Temple of Heaven is spacious --
A perfect setting for large gatherings.

Alas, only the emperor could go to the Hall of Prayer
To ask the Chinese gods for a good harvest.

Imagine what blessings might have come down
To the millions of Chinese peasants
In answer to prayers for bountiful harvests!
(1985)

Published in "Now We Are Islanded Together : Poetry And other Writing By Kauai Writers; With Art By Kauai Artists." Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii: Magic Fishes Press, 1987. 39p.


LETTER FROM CHINA IV:  XIAN

For Mom

With the exception of the Xian Weibin Guest House --
of which I'll tell you some other time --
you would like Xian, Mom,
the capital of ten dynasties and
the city of radiant roses.
Roses grace this ancient city.
Pink roses are blooming in prideful splendor
in front of Xian's pink Post Office.

My guess is that mothers would appreciate Xian --
given mothers' tendency
to give precise and explicit instructions.
The residents of Xian give no thought
to time and space when making signs.
Take the sign at the Xian Airport
above the roof of the terminal.
The sign says in huge, red letters:
WISH YOU TAKE A GOOD TRIP.
It is intended for departing passengers
but I am glad we saw it when we arrived
yesterday, Thursday, the 23rd of May.

And the laundry bag in the closet of our hotel
Carries a clear, polite instruction:  It says,
PLEASE PUT YOUR LAUNDRY IN IT.
 
This afternoon we went to the Special Arts Factory.
The sign at the entrance is a diplomat's delight.
It declares:  WARMLY WELCOME YOU,
YOUNG FRIENDS OF THE WORLD.

The display board I enjoyed most
is at the Xian Fenghuang Embroidery Factory.
It consists of two long paragraphs --
a total of 18 lines of history and advertisement
ending with the following invitation:
WE WELCOME YOUR MAKING
JOINT VENTURES WITH US.

P.S.
It's now Saturday, the 25th of May.
We are above China on our way to Nanjing.
As we went inside the waiting room at Xian Airport
two instructive signs caught my eyes.
The first says:  PLEASE DON'T STEP
     OVER PASSENGERS.
The second states:  NO ADMISSION FOR
     SENDERS AND AUTOS.
And, of course, we saw for the second time
WISH YOU TAKE A GOOD TRIP --
The Xian touch that I carry in my heart.
(1985)

 Published in Pleiades (now Makali`i) -- The
Journal of the University of Hawaii Community
Colleges -- February 1989


LETTER FROM CHINA VII: LIJIANG RIVER

Guilin is special.
We are on a four-hour cruise on the Li River
Today, the 30th of May.

Every second is a scenic moment.
These ancient rocks are majestic and awesome.
Guilin is the garden of the gods.

There is mist upon the mountains.
The side of some mountains are terraced.
The hills are green with weeping willows
And with tall bamboos that are surrounded
By small but sturdy bamboos
That humbly support their willowy kin.

Boats ply the gray Lijiang River.
A couple is sculling into the deep
Hoping for some fish for supper.
A big boat passes -- with a lady
Who is washing her hair
In the fast-flowing Li River.
(1985)

Published in
"Now We Are Islanded Together" (1987)


LETTER FROM CHINA X:  CANTON

Sis, we have seen seven cities:
From Beijing, southward to Canton.
China is the factory of silk and
Cloisonne and of fragile kites.

The days in China are uniformly the same:
Every day begins and ends alike --
With work at the garmentt factories,
With farming at the communes,
With digging ditches in the cities,
With paving roads in the countryside.

Today is Sunday, the 2nd of June.
But China has no Sundays.
The Chinese have no equivalent
For the American weekend
To fish for fun,
To think under a tree,
To relax in the sun,
To break the monotony of work,
To worship on Sundays,
To enliven the sameness
Of everyday existence.

Men and women in China
Ride their bicycles to work.
They ride at night without headlights.
They drive their cars at night
Without headlights!
Miraculously the Chinese
Get to their destinations
Without meeting death in the dark!
(1985) 

Published in "Now We Are Islanded Together:  Poetry 
and Other Writing by Kauai Writers,  with Art by Kauai Artists."
Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii:  Magic Fishes Press, 1987.  39p. illus.

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