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Dining on the grass

2006-07-29 11:04

  “EVEN a prairie fire it survives; at a zephyr's breath it revives” —— such is the resilience of life in grass that I came to appreciate when reading poetry in my youth.

  Now, I enjoy a scene of little children in the twilight chasing and romping around on a neat and smooth lawn like a super-size carpet. Soft, supple and genial, it supports the kids' lively movements and cushions their falls. Our happy children do belong to an era of tender grass.

  Only decades ago, their fathers had to live amid weeds and thistles. The wild, prickly bushes they moved about and through made them itch all over. The sharp grass blades would leave scars on their hands, feet and face if they scratched themselves. Yet nothing mattered in those days when people weeded their fields with a hoe or by bare hand before planting cassava. Incidentally, some of the unwanted grass went to the kitchen to make drinks in the hot weather.

  It was on a farm in the United States later that I enjoyed for the first time a picnic on the grass in the setting sun and then a concert in the moonlight. Some of the audience —— lovers of propriety —— had booked regular seats. Others who preferred to move about during the performance had paid for places on the grassy slope. We dined on the grass.

  Dine while you can, I told myself, for the grass would be dining on you some day instead! The musical on the stage was too far-off for my sight or hearing. Among people covering the large slope, either reclining, sitting, or squatting on the grass in twos and threes, I intoned lines by Jacques Prevert the French poet.

  My homeland came to mind. Given that land-scarce island, I doubt whether we can ever possibly repay Nature's kindness by allowing the grass to dine on us buried beneath. (Translated by Allen Zhuang)

  草餐

  野火烧不尽,春风吹又生——草。年少时从文字里领略到的,是生命的韧力。

  黄昏时看孩子们在草场上追逐、翻滚,草,平整,像是一大张毛毯,包容着活泼的躯体。跌倒,草,承担着,免他们受伤。草的柔柔、软软、暖暖——而嬉耍其上的孩童的确属于嫩草世代。

  只不过推前一步,他们老爸,却属于杂草环抱的前代。钻进,穿出,草野得似火团,把身体炙得痒痒;爬爬,草还会在手脚甚至脸上留痕。那什么都不算一回事的年月,锄草、种木薯、拔草;而茅草根还能成为家中锅里的凉水呢。

  真正地享受草地上夕阳下野餐,月照下看戏,是某次在美国的农村剧场。爱正襟危坐的,可买座位券,喜徜徉随观的,则购草坡票。

  在草上进餐,快吃吧!有一天,草会在你上面进餐。远远舞台上的音乐剧,不甚了了,但处在满山坡或躺或坐或蹲的三三两两的观众群中,我念着雅克·卜列维的诗。

  我想,处在这个地少人多的国度,恐怕我们都难有机会对草回报,让草在我们身上进餐了吧!

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