So how can ordinary people counter the assault of an increasingly violent state?
Though traditionally attributed
to the great master, court painter Wan Unh,
the screen itself shows the unlikelihood
of so imprimatured an origin.
Insistence on orchid after orchid,
for example, a mode of attention
to the flower as flower permitted
in what dynasty? Or composition:
clusters arrayed against all principle,
as orchids themselves grow where nothing should.
The background too plain, the whole too simple.
Black ink, white paper fading, grayed toward
each other. Each plant blooms from its panel
impossibly, proof of an unruly hand.
What is given as reality here?
It’s well-traveled, not difficult, clearly marked,
the hiking trail up to and along the ridge.
It branches from and into others, networked
over these mountains knuckled along a gorge.
If to your upturned palms rising things (birds, fire)
descended, like the Buddha you would carry
nothing, leave nothing behind. As (they say here)
he did on hills like these, even these very.
The monks left to posterity no account
of how they carved into so sheer a cliff face
so large a statue. It was no monument,
but marked — was — the Buddha’s presence in this place.
From the trail one can see but not draw near it,
this image, equally stone and spirit.
Why would I see she? What you mean?
I see she surface, see she dive.
I see she reckless behind the wheel.
I see she hustle, jitterbug, jive.
I see she several, many, all.
I see she coinage, comma splice,
I see she scanning for sea glass,
cold wind here be damned, and cold rain.
I see she camo, target practice.
I see she jungle cat, carnivore.
5-speed, 426 Hemi.
I see she soda, hear she fizz.
Now, after all what came before.
I see she see me see she see.
H. L. Hix’s recent books include a poetry collection, I’m Here to Learn to Dream in Your Language (Etruscan Press, 2015), and an art/poetry anthology, Ley Lines (Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, 2014). His website is www.hlhix.com.