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The alley starts to stretch
on the first bow stroke—
sighs drift on
and on from beginning to end
beneath a lone lamp
two eyes blind and brimming with sorrow
search for a way
                           out
of choked-back sobs

A bitter taste caught in the chest—
drop  by  drop
                          drawn
as a bow glides
                        back and forth
between the strings
                        lost
to half a lifetime
of moving on

Cold moon shines high, spring water icy cold
I do not drink or smoke or even crave fatty foods
but my heartstrings are tied in knots
                               tugged
                           and tugged at
until two streams of tears flow forth—
one forwards to my next life
one back to my former self

                                                           

Note: Erhu is a Chinese two-stringed musical instrument held in the lap and played with a bow.