In a Chinese Garden

Finally, the erasing hour of the rain.
The garden lost behind a paper screen,
and what returns is never the same.
I have known a vast, bright, burning summer,
reduced to the silence of the listening stones.
The rain thrusts me
into these corners of solitude with a grey palm.
But see how the hydrangeas remain,
and rise like a rebellion of scent and colour,
from the darkened pond.
Blue, through folds of purple, to breathless pink,
they climb, until there is no colour at all,
only this defiant song of insects
that not even the rain could wash away.
For there is nothing in these flowers that
grows despondent, as we sometimes do,
and accepts the finality of water.
Like a breath of infinite pigment,
they leap and dive
in circles of unquenchable joy
without decay,
to the very edge of the garden wall.

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Daishin’in

You must let go of the rock
to swim in this garden.
Its deep red is like a clot
that holds back the rush
of your heart’s calling.
Nothing here would mind, it seems,
if you just stayed
like the stagnant moss,
with your hurt and your wreckage
of dreams and memory,
but for the rock,
which beats now
like an animal necessity.
There is nowhere else to go,
and you plunge your determined eyes
into the onrushing flow
of the raked white sand.
Looking back you see
those things you left behind
to dry on the red rock,
crumbling,
hollow after all.

Quiet Morning, Lake Pukaki

Quiet morning, Lake Pukaki,
the grey dawn sky
coldly faces the blue night
still pacing in the glacial depths.
A single thumb of land
holds the edge
where the immensities
would leak into each other
and cease feeling.
These three belong
from transition to transition,
and there is no language
where the still wet ink
of the sky and the lake
and the uncertain cliffs
finally breach the feeble lines,
run into eddies of confused silence,
before the day comes dividing,
restoring.