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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Poem -- White Birds

White Birds

Two white birds spring up from the misty field
of the Japanese room screen in the Asian museum
and call sorrowfully to each other.
Poignant is their cry.

Winter reeds accentuate a wet landscape where
stolid grey-brown horses browse soggy weeds,
ink roves in searching circles over paper,
scouring a mute, deep rose sky, calling blindly like a lost crane.

The artist’s sister is one bird,
she died and has been transfigured,
the other his lost brother.
Together they beat their wings in active protest,
they shriek in the artist’s heart.

Though all three, artist, sister and brother,
have long since passed out of memory,
they defy time’s wintery numbness.

Imagination vaults from the turquoise sky,
and flutters like a ghost.

Images live on independently,
even after the artist has finished his day’s work,
returned home to his wife and children,
drunk his miso tea, ate his rice, and winter cabbage,
He continues to stencil
grazing horses on the bedroom wall,
birds lifting upward off window panels,
and soft weeds
cushioning his head like a pillow.

His brother and sister for centuries have flown
off the screen each night, unwilling to rest,
find themselves now confined inside the museum.
Thru the quiet corridors they fly, resting on porcelain vases,
flutter thru dark hallways, to perch at last
On the graceful pendent ears of Shiva,
incarnated in stone,
who sits in a silence beyond scrutiny, never failing to
exercise compassion and infinite hearing.

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