gate characters - November 5, 2014s

author’s note:

The above graphic shows the Japanese characters for “gate”.


In the foreground
of the Japanese landscape print…

a dragon in lead armor plates
waits coiled beside the hilltop gate

as trees sacrifice their leaves
to the river water below the hill

and in the background…

a small peasant carrying
a bundle of rice on his back
trudges through the slanting rain
on the road that follows the river—

the river disappearing
into distant mountains tufted with pine—
their peaks shrouded in cloud.

I am living in a world of grain:

a world to be ingested, digested, read
—an outside world experienced within.

A world to which I’m held
by the rice bundle I hold.

A world of lead

yet also a world of artifice:

after the long blurred season
of rain has ended
this world loses form

as its melted colors mingle
in flooded lanes and fields
as its structures and landmarks squiggle
in water reflections…

I lose shape too–I lose boundary
as I open myself to all this fluid beauty–
to a world quickly evaporating:

lifted to the white heavens—

soon invisible…yet just as real.

What am I then?—

have I finally braved the dragon?

Have I passed through the gate?

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
listening to silence: the book