Daniel Reid

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Poetry

The Party

By Chou Tung (Snow Reid)

Happiest of all are the guests
Sorriest of all are the servants
Half happy half sorry is the host.

Chunk upon chunk of meat,
Goblet after goblet of wine,
Go tumbling down their gullets,
Amusing to death the guests,
Worrying to death the host,
And tiring to death the servants.

Talking and joking,
Shaking hands and talking trash,
Time flies by swiftly.
Does the host do all this
Just to please her guests?
Or could it be ... …

She’s only indulging
In another grand celebration
Of her own loneliness?
Or perhaps it's just an exercise
To test the strength and stamina
Of the servants.
No blame in killing two birds
With one stone.

No wonder people love parties:
Eating rich food,
Speaking empty words,
Cold grins, wry faces,
Hearts numb, brains blank,
Each guest aiming
At a different mark.

There’s meat and wine,
And sweet desserts,
And all sorts of fun.
They have not come here in vain:
Engaging in brief encounters,
While stuffing their bellies full.

Say "Hello", say "Goodbye",
"Great party, good food,"
"Hate to run, but have to go …"

Leaving behind a pile of rotting bones,
Stale crumbs, and dirty dishes,
And the scowls on the frowning faces
Of the servants.

Chiang Mai, Thailand 1992

This work by Chou Tung (Snow Reid) was first published in Chinese in the
Feb 23, 1992 issue of The World Daily News in Thailand; The above is a
translation by Daniel Reid, sub-titled as “A Meditation on the Mind of a Host”

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