Where to Start? by Yi Yu

Yi Yu, originally from China, writes in English and Chinese. She started writing poetry in English from summer 2012.

This poem appears in Issue Ten of Tincture Journal. Please support our work and buy a copy today.

Perito Moreno Glacier throwing off some ice (5470451664) (2)

Where to Start?
by Yi Yu

What if everything were in reverse?

Eating to get hungry,

singing to hear silence,

writing to erase the traces of existence,

to touch the world as it is only after you die.

Reading to recognise no words,

finding a partner to feel lonely,

and dying to be born.

The glacier lies back.

Water flows up to the sky.

The man has been coming here for fifty years,

saying “hi” everyday.

Is he saying goodbye?


This poem was inspired by a video I watched about a Tibetan man who lived near a field of glaciers in Tibet. He started shooting photos of the glaciers in the 1960s, and continues on to this day—collecting in the process half a century of photographs. While watching the video, I was struck by his demeanour when he was talking with a reporter at the site where he took the photographs. He kept sighing, as his sorrowful eyes gazed up at the melting glaciers on the mountains around him and, interspersed with this scene, the camera panned on the photographs he’d taken over the years, showing their slow but steady dissolution. The scene as a whole was powerfully moving. Responding to this, the poem reflects the emotions of approaching the end of life, the end of existence, and questions the nature of working cycles.

2 thoughts on “Where to Start? by Yi Yu

  1. Pingback: Issue Ten Table of Contents | Tincture Journal

  2. I love this poem. It reminds me of the passing of time, and how, even though we we may be able to travel back in time, we can never move through time in reverse. There’s a quiet existentialism to the poem, but because you’re documenting, immortalising a human, there’s a comfort to it too.

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