Watching Li Po at the Waterfall
In our Dark Ages, China’s poets turned
Proud backs to futile wars along the Wall
To journey into mountains thick with mist
And contemplate cascades sprung from the moon.
A thousand years had passed when Hokusai
Looked back to capture one immortal soul,
Engraving Li Po rapt with wonderment
But not alone as in his famous verse,
Accompanied instead by acolytes
Who cling to Master’s robe above the cliffs.
The painter’s waterfall, against his wont,
Emerges from no rocks, nor feeds a pool.
Omitting even polished, frothy slopes,
It drops uninterrupted, unified
As Li Po’s skystream circling the world,
Joining Middle Kingdom’s running streams
With all the universal ethers poured
In every cycle of created life,
A revelation of the writer’s art
Forever redirecting such spare lines
Imprinted once again in time’s long scroll.
Now I add my voice to the accolade,
Writing about painting about writing,
Part of the cosmic stream brought full around.
Jim Gaines lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia and is active in state and local writing groups there. His work has been widely published, most recently in journals such as Avocet, Poetry Quarterly, Piedmont Journal of Fiction and Poetry, The Poet's Domain, and El Portal.
The Ekphrastic Review
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