To Return by
(31 Stories)

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R.C. Kagan

Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can’t Go Home Again. What are the frustrations if you try?


To Return

“In youth I had nothing

That matched the vulgar tone,

For my nature always loved the hills and mountains.

Inadvertently I fell

Into the Dusty Net,

Once having gone

It was more than thirteen years…

Too long I was held

Within the barred cage.

Now I am able to return again to Nature.”

(T’ao Ch’ien)



In the Canton Zoo,

The Panda bear hid

From our group of wild foreigners.


Later, I returned, alone



She approached.

Beneath my gaze she chewed a bamboo shoot.



Your habitat in the Tibetan highlands

has been transformed.

Even your camouflage of colors

has been appropriated.

New black coal spots in the white snow-

Robbed even of your colors,

How can you return?

Is your panting due to the mining smoke

which obscures your Himalayan retreat?


I have lost the art of the quiet return.

Years ago, in my youth, I left my friends.

When I returned to them, a luxuriant bamboo

grove allowed flashes of their

images between the dense stems.

Glimpses of them tantalized me

With the wild desire to return.

I leap with my machete and hack.

What will they be when I arrive?

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