Paris Opera

Persistence got the gatekeeper to let me in the Perfume Garden where perennials are blooming. I find the beekeeper beneath a pepper tree reading Saint-John Perse's Birds. While grasshoppers chirp away on this summer day, he tells me Perse's poem was inspired by Braque's paintings rather than Attar's Hoopoe guiding Sparrow, Parrot, Partridge, and Peregrine Falcon to the realm brighter than a thousand suns. Ah! Braque's birds soaring in supernatural glory in dream-light of polar pearls and sparkling sperms. He prefers Mu Chi's Persimmons and Dali's Hypercubus to the perspectives in Leonardo's Last Supper. He talks of life's winged purposes— the universe perpetually flowing deeper into our soul, pervading hush of pure perfection performed on us from the unknown persuasions of lovers. When I ask about purity, he says simply unwavering perception of God and suggests some inspired reading— Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed, Rousseau's Peregrination of a Solitary Dreamer, Perceval's Grail Quest, and Sir Gawain's Perilous Bed. For we are in a time of peril and prosperity is not in sight. Perhaps the period that ends this Kali Yuga is here for the enlightened to perceive New Periods— Perhaps you're going too! But that feathered spirit hope perching in the soul only hums of temperance and perseverance. Perhaps tiny crystals would last forever like warm pearls, ripened fruit of experience from the seed source of spring. "Am I dust particles in sunlight or the round sun?" she whispered a song "By experience I know them". Let us pray for the perfection of beauty— my love, my dove, my perfect one, the perceived grace given unto us the perfume delight of the heart. Ah! childhood dreams of Persian grass, Peruvian plains, the Porta Sole of Perugia where Perugino taught Raphael to paint adorable angels. "Perhaps I might tell more if you keep it a secret" he whispered. When I nodded, he shows me not a prepared parchment of emperors, but some papers yellowed with age— Perish your thoughts— the first step of yoga. Let the peerless Pure Consciousness permeate your mind so you may ascend the Upper Waters to Purusha, the Supreme Ultimate. He tells me that Perun is the Sun God worshipped by the Slavs, Persica means Sun, Founder of the Persian Empire, Peru, land of "Children of the Sun", and Parisii were founders of Paris, the City of Lights. Who is this worshipper of Nature, this beekeeper telling me these tales of Perseid showers, finding the Pole Star from the Big Dipper, the perished city of Persepolis, the Apples of Hesperides hidden in Paradise, that Hyperion was father of Helios the Sun God and Hesperus the Morning Star heralding the dawn, that Persephone is perfectly content as Queen of deep sleep. Am I one of the seven cave sleepers of Ephesus still dreaming or performing in a Paris opera singing Bach's Cantata: Sleepers Awake? Wake up! O dear soul remember the thunder of perfect mind, the perfected vision where each desire is ripened in paradise. If the Sun-God Perun is père un— One Father, where is my father? Suddenly it dawned upon me that summer day August 1979 coming out of the Paris Opera Metro— a stranger asked "Père et fils?" and offered to snap a picture of me and Dad together. Dad was here fifty years ago at the Sorbonne doing his thesis on "Irish Rebellion" while I'm here doing research on Protein Folding. And three days before Dad died at 98, he pointed to this photo and another of him at Café Paix, saying "fifteen francs"— my coffee treat he still remembered 21 years later. And I think of Joyce's "Ecce Puer": "A child was born; An old man gone"— and much to my regret I never gave Dad a grandchild he wished for, but now almost thirty years from that precious moment at the Paris Opera— a quilt of a hundred suns is woven for mon père— this poem— this child is born.

                                                                                      — Peter Y. Chou
                                                                                           Mountain View, 3-11-2009