Yiling Ding

Rookie (1990)

Giants' Playground - Poem by Yiling Ding

I stand in the shadow of giants
and I measure my height against them.
I am constantly looking for the edge of the sky
that I might find hidden in a sliver of
empty space between these stone towers.

I cannot fly, nor can I grow any further.
As I try to enlarge, the bulk only
sags me to the ground, as I take on
far too many burdens than I can carry.
Neither talent nor opportunity will
give me air to rise me up for
I cannot breathe in this clustered space,
nor do I have the vacuum lungs
to compete for oxygen with the titans.

I am told that, beneath the sky,
there is still life to be loved, that
I should look down beneath my feet
and stare at the flowers struggling to grow,
and the weeds that are so strong and
satisfied with their single-minded lives.
I am sometimes told I should join them, but
my sky-scraping friends would surely
mock me. I do not know how to shrink anyway.
I would forever be a weed too tall and stiff,
not pliable or vigorous enough.

I don't know how to be a stone giant,
I cannot be a weed. I wish I could be a flower,
so that even if I cannot touch the sky,
the earth will love me enough to nurture me into
something beautiful and adored. But
I do not have the temperament or the sweetness.

I feel like an unformed mound of
hard but weak flesh. Instead of holding me up
so I may reach higher, it only hangs around me.
I do not know where to go.
The earth rejects me,
the sky is beyond me.
Where does a weed
who worked too hard to be a giant live?


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Poem Submitted: Sunday, April 25, 2010



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