Poetry / December 2013 (Issue 22)

Two Poems

by Eleanor Goodman

Summer Palace

At the Garden of Crystalline Ripples
                                                       the court was carried
                        up Longevity Hill
                                   on brocade litters
their lacquered sides lifted
                                                     as if buoyed on water
             like lotus leaves smothering
the face of this shallow lake
                                  by men no longer men

stone boat                   water-tower                       pure north of the Temple of Virtue

            the youngest of the favored
                         for a while
I stayed
                         in the courtyard by the manmade tributary
                                                              where the willows
dangled their locks into the water’s mouth

                                                then when another war of flowers began
                                                           he quit the many-arched bridge

my voice grew shrill
                                  there was always the rumor of fire
                                                                    when it came closer
        I caught my hair up in butterfly pins
                                                                     and sought
that soft encompassing myself

no one goes there now
            the path long overgrown with meadow rue


to Sichuan’s dark peaks beyond
the court's reach,

he gestures
for a sheaf of rice paper,
brush and ink,

an inkwell of stone
broken open, hollowed smooth
where the ink pools.

He dips the brush,
draws the end on the stone's
rim for a tip.

The body becomes
an eggshell of spine, inside
a mind quivers

which is the same
mind proving its nature
in characters.

The hand stills,
rice paper dries puckered in silence.
He suddenly feels the cold.
Website © Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2007-2018
ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.