-with lines from David Hinton’s translation of the Chinese poet Hanshan
Time retreats to the fireside in his cabin
and pulls a heavy album from the shelf.
Its old pages are frail, but wildflowers
shout from between them in all their color.
Every spring he takes the first bright blossom he finds
—buttercups, pansies, violets, clover—
a catalogue of yellow and blue, purple and rose,
forever pressed like butterflies rescued
from the violence of the sky.
This way they never pass, they only gather.
There’s a starkness in the night hollows
gapping the trees from the forest,
a ripe space where thoughts come to be,
where they linger as branches
or a green unfurling.
Vibrations through Time.
The dark up the mountain resides in itself.
The old man measures his infinity of waiting
forever like this: alone and free,
not alive, not dead.
In his plain bedroom,
the pines needling onto his roof
wake him into another sleepless night
of gathering his boots to wander
the spaces between trees,
to check his map is still there, to
gaze at things so utterly themselves
an owl is a child, a moon, a hat.
And an old man is Time, a hatchet, loneliness,
comfortable shoes, river water, a history.