I watched an old woman cross Zhonggang Road in busy traffic
holding her cane,
while others (younger) reached out on the other side waiting for her.
Motors revved their impatience for the impending change of light.
How old would she have been when the white modern arch above her gray curled hair was constructed?
Or when I was born? When this island,
Ilha Formosa, passed hands from the Japanese to the Chinese, and then to Chiang Kai-Shek?
The airport, all the cars, the enormous structures around her? And what kind of life?
How old was she when the languages in the schools switched, and then again?
Or the importation of telephones, televisions, computers.
And finally, the shadow of American imperial dominance and the Sign of the Dollar?
What, if guised in young semblance, would a man look like if he were a thousand years old?
Two thousand? Three? Four?
And what if he saw the entire history of the West? Pagan to Christian,
to whatever we have now. Europe, America, Australia, the world, and the heavenly bodies far away?
Would he stick to his grade school lectures and boyhood stories? Would he follow whatever he was taught, whatever the age?
Or would he learn to accept every new dogma as if it were the absolute Truth without question? Would he say:
“This era must be the last one. This time they got it right” every few revolutions of the Earth?
We know how the latter would look already.
As for the former, more stubborn one,
he too, is already here.
Alive in the recently born, and yet to be so.
Reading the secrets in books and hearing them spoken far away
while the mass disregards them
only because they could never guess at the magic that hides away.
The combined fury of the archetypes reminds him
even when cloaked in the body of a child.