Banyan Tree Swim - Poem by Keith Johnson
A friend recently linked me to
The Facebook photo-album that he had posted
Extolling the merits of the Banyan Tree Hotel in Macau
As the absolute last word in luxury
And I quote from the promo:
Watch the glamorous lights of Cotai City
as you bathe in your own sanctuary
A luxurious bedroom, expansive living area
complete with spacious relaxation pool,
unparalleled views of Cotai City or Hengqin Island,
a custom wooden bathtub complementing
an opulently furbished bathroom
breathe glamour into this enclave of serenity.
Spanning 100 square metres and lavishly appointed
with every quality trapping modern living has to offer,
the Cotai Pool Suite comes with an enticing king-sized bed
to tempt you into easy slumber.
This washed me back to 1966
When the Great Helmsman Chairman Mao at 72
Joined 5,000 other swimmers
For the 11th Wuhan Cross-Yangtze Swim
With the help of six life-guards
And his Cultural Work Troupe
Of young women
He stayed in the water for 65 minutes
Floating downstream for ten miles
Surrounded by giant placards
Requesting fate to grant him
A further 10,000 years of life
To create Great Order
After striking and smashing the Black Gang
By fomenting a Great Disorder -
For when there is Great Disorder
Conditions are excellent -
Under Heaven, the people are the sea
That the revolutionary swims in.
Mao hated Confucius
As he was far too pragmatic and unassuming.
Indeed, Confucius was chided in the I Ching
For his commonsense and compassion
After he asked a disciple
To aid a man who was being swept
Through the Lüliang Gorge
On the grounds that the swimmer might
Be endangering his life -
But the man made the shore singing
And berated his would-be rescuer
For lacking the assurance
To be at one with profit and danger
And follow the Tao of the Water.
But Confucius who liked to swim
With his friends was a modest fellow
Who thought that wealth and prestige
Were like clouds that passed away.
And I thought that I should write something
On behalf of the Banyan bathers:
'Laid back we wallow
Against the marble tiles
Our ample derrieres
Keeping us bobbing...
There are no perils here
Like the flowing tides
Of the Lüliang Gorge;
Although the water is too deep
For me to sit
All my life
I wanted to be in the swim
Though going against the current
Took my breath away..
Now at last I can indulge myself
As I immerse immodestly'.
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