The Opera of Life

An intense anticipatory silence sets the heavy air ablaze as the lights of the auditorium dim…..
Lush, pleated burgundy velvet curtains lift themselves,
floating upward instantly in a rush
as swift as the flight of eagles branching open their wings
and soaring sky-high…

The scene: An enchanted hall of the Gods-broad, open, cavernous,
a gaping hollow mouth with no end,
threatening to embrace and swallow all those within it…
(Na mo ha na tan a tuo lai yeye)
Cherry-wood figures so ornately carved, every skin highlight still glistening,
iridescent with polish as if they had emerged freshly dipped
in a dark varnish of warm milk-chocolate….
(Na mo o li ye)
…..clouds of incense wafting into the rafters where they stood motionless,
forever intoxicated in sweet smokes of slumber,
Secretly waiting for greater powers to summon them to life….
.(Puo luo jie ti shi fuo lai ye)
Golden shafts of sparkling sunlight
freely spilling forth onto all those assembled below;
A swooping crystal chandelier complete with large
perfectly oval droplets clear as water suspended majestically……
(Pu ti sa tuo po ye)
….towering high above in thin air that was straining to hold its gargantuan weight….
No more than a seasoned,
pampered prima-donna,
perfectly poised, head held high,
flouting all her pearls of ostentation…..
(Mo ho sa tuo po ye)
…..used to being the centrepiece that magnetically held everyone’s gazes,
mesmerising all with her dazzling beauty,
occasionally catching cheeky glimpses of tiny twinkling diamond eyes,
embedded in that shiny black granite floor below.

The chanting crescendoes:
(Na mo ha na ta la tuo lai ye ye…. )

The words form themselves, effortlessly pronounced….
(Na mo ha na ta la tuo lai ye ye)
The next character, the next sound ready,
ricocheting off my tongue, perfectly timed….
(mo ho jia lu ni jia ye)
I recognise each and every single word, I know how to say them all….
(An sap o lai sa tuo po ye)
But all are completely devoid of meaning.
Me, pretending to understand that fragment of the Chinese person who understood, who knew, who wanted to pray.
The lips continue moving, the words continue flowing…unstoppable.
Yet I am a mere spectator, in this great grand scene in which I don’t exist….
…..somewhere else.
Up high above with the gods, and deities questioning why I am here…..
A rich aurora of swirling colours, smoke, meaning,
incense and people, streaming by me, infusing into me…
a spectator firmly glued into a theatre seat,
in the harsh brash solid world of reality peering from the outside…
…..into a childish glass-dome Christmas snow-globe wonderland-
….pretending to encapsulate hope, and frosty fantasy….
so full of inexhaustible promise but which I knew I would never buy,
and would gingerly replace onto that gift-shop shelf with a chuckle.
The scene ends with a crash on the gong….
All assembled bow deferentially,
Waiting for the high priests to make their ceremonious exists…..
The scene comes to a close.
Lights regain their dull brightness, as people get up
to leave the packed auditorium.
An empty seat in the front row…..someone who never showed up….
Somewhere in that lavish ceiling adorned with
painted reliefs of dancing cherubs
the reason must lie.

The Opera of Life


Joined December 2007

  • Artist

Artist's Description

My interpretation of what life means to me as well as its value.



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