Monday, August 10, 2009


Two Fish Under a Rock

We went to the Seattle Asian Art Museum Saturday to look for paintings that would give us poems. We found a few: a painting of a white heron in a tree of green paint bent over against the wind, rubbings of the 16 Lohans with Chinese characteristics – wild eyebrows and tired feet. It was inevitable that the museum and its park designed by the same brothers who designed Central Park would give us back our peace of mind. Giving the material its due we walked to the top of the water tower and looked at the Sound spiting silver clouds at Seattle. Back down under the trees, Jennifer thought she could see through a white coy to it’s spine in the clear dark brown fish pond. We under-appreciated the black sun sculpture by Naguchi because it was crowded with American Born Chinese (ABCs my Chinese teacher says).

Still thinking of the cold mountain we were on, we went down Capitol Hill in search of books and coffee. We stumbled into Second Place Books, a dirty warren of feral cats and cigarettes chain-smoked. Stuck in the literary anthologies was a 1965 gem of Chinese literature translations: Gary Snyder’s Han Shan/Cold Mountain poems and Arthur Waley’s Li Po among others. All of which were carefully annotated with flowing pen strokes by Deb McKnight, the former owner. We took it up the street to a coffee shop and looked it over learning from Lu Chi that the “shapes of tame animals by the sudden shining forth of a tiger are illuminated.”

We read well to what sounded like Beethoven, drinking coffee perked by a man with a mohawk to improve our minds and change our writing until we were ready to walk steadily back to our car – on an improvised path once again to Cold Mountain.

We wanted a good place to settle:

Cold Mountain would be safe.

Light wind in a hidden pine –

Listen close – the sound gets better.

Under it a gray-haired couple

Mumbles along reading Chinese Classics

For ten years we won’t go back home

We won’t even remember the way we came.

Photo above by Lopolis


Post a Comment

<< Home