The green heat of summer has cooled into crisp blue afternoons. Cicadas have given way crickets. A shaft of the setting sun slants through the window, the white hot sting of months past now mellowed out into a golden glow. All things are waning, except the moon.

The moon has grown: brighter, rounder, yellower. When I squint, I can almost touch the Yutu (Jade Rabbit) pounding immortal elixir for Chang’e under the osmanthus tree. How long have they been up there? The legends say 4000 years. Now, with the moon so close to Earth, they might just land lightly if the jumped. If they jumped — they’d certainly be in for a shocker.

And so for now, they continue their lunar exile, their likeness commemorated on ever-elaborate moon cake tins and kept alive by our collective imagination. When the Americans walked on the moon, the space team joked that they’d “keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.” In the years since, the Chinese have sent Chang’e 1, 2, and 3 into the heavens, and in 2013, landed a moon rover named Yutu.

I crane my neck to the side of the railing of my narrow porch on the 43rd floor. The moon has slid around the corner and is hiding behind some identical high-rise. It’s been almost a year since I’ve looked up. The lights below are always so much brighter.

I take a bite of the mooncake. A glob of sweet, greasy lotus paste nearly gags me as it sticks to the roof of my mouth. I wash it down with a swig of scalding pu-erh. The tea smells of home, but the mooncake tastes like florescent-light supermarkets. They swirl together as I work off the last bits of stickiness with my tongue.

Past and present, memory and longing, an artificial limbo between the lights above and below.


Prokofiev Lowell Seurat.jpgWelcome to the first episode of Connect the Dots! This is a series where I connect the dots between three seemingly disparate art pieces (one each from the realms of visual art, music, and literature) that are linked by their shared poetic impression. New episodes are published every Wednesday at 8pm (EST). If you haven’t already, hit subscribe at the bottom of the page to get new posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Today, the 3 works in focus are:

1. “Bath” from Spring Day by Amy Lowell. Published in 1916 America, “Bath” is a prime example of imagist poetry, which emphasizes clear and simple language that captures reality in its true, unadorned essence. For copyright reasons, read it here.

2. A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. This painting, from 1884-1886 France, is one of the largest and most famous examples of pointillism.

Housed at the Art Institute of Chicago, the enormous painting measures 2 by 3 meters. Here it is, via Wikimedia Commons:


3. “Comodo” from Vision fugitives (Op. 22) by Sergei Prokofiev. Composed in 1915-1917 Russia, “Comodo” (sometimes spelled as “commodo”) is one of the twenty short piano pieces, or “visions,” that make up Visions fugitives. Lasting no more than two minutes each, each vision paints entire worlds of coloristic impression.

Here is a beautiful recording by the great Russian pianist, Boris Berman, via YouTube (“Comodo” is at the 7:27-8:45 minute mark).

Connections abound between this trio of works. Let’s get right into it… Continue reading “CONNECT THE DOTS #1: “A WALK IN THE PARK””