To fish the lonely winter beck
He wears a summer hat of straw,
And walks for miles through snow and ice.
There is no other human trace.
At night he has a makeshift hut
Of bark and reeds and bended birch.
The fire he lights is cold by dawn.
He’ll stay until his brandy’s gone.
A heron has the further bank.
They eye each other with respect.
As snow is falling, heron flies,
And drags behind a trail of drops.
The river steams with freezing mist.
The old man’s breathing joins the cloud.
Poem after Liu Tsung Yuan