by Kevin Levin August 19, 2013 3 Ha Jin, “The Past” The new school year is right around the corner. Today we started our first history department meeting with the poetry of Ha Jin, which beautifully reflects how we shape and are shaped by the past. I have supposed my past is a part of myself As my shadow appears whenever I’m in the sun the past cannot be thrown off and its weight must be borne, or I will become another man. But I saw someone wall in his past into a garden whose produce is always in fashion. If you enter his property without permission he will welcome you with a watchdog or a gun I saw someone set up his past as a harbor. Wherever it sails, his boat is safe– if a storm comes, he can always head for home. His voyage is the adventure of a kite. I saw someone drop his past like trash. He buried it and shed it altogether. He has shown me that without the past one can also move ahead and get somewhere. Like a shroud my past surrounds me, but I will cut it and stitch it, to make good shoes with it, shoes that fit my feet. I am definitely going to use this on the first day of classes. All the best to those of you anticipating a return to the classroom.