|Jul/Aug 2003 • Poetry|
He knows the ash will rise
like a butterfly lift, flakes in the trees
and bamboo smudged,
the colour of flame in the ink of being.
A Samurai reads but owns no books.
When the cover is closed,
the last page turned, the fire is fanned
by a weight of words.
It is the end of a god, or a lesson in Zen,
the arc of sword that flares with sun,
the brushes of kanji
where a picture is sound.
Yet nothing is lost. Though
the thoughts of another have passed
like a petal in a stream
or golden koi,
the memory is pressed
and knowledge is left,
the gleaned out then in the act
of now, where
he sits on a rock with an opened book,
nothing in the world
but a depth of breath,
the life that thrums on a printed page,
that cracks and splits with heat,
bursts into flames.
The eyes see what the mind wants.
He had a bird in his sleeve
and cards that flew,
dissolving coins in closing palms,
tearing notes that fell like snow,
the Queen's face crying.
There were tricks
that fooled with a practiced ruse,
the plant in a crowd,
the trapdoor stage,
the black and white flash of a suited show,
pulleys and strings.
There were pepper pots crushed
that came back whole,
hatching eggs cracked in pockets
gasping rows and houses packed,
the wonder of a lie.
Then sitting at a mirror
with a frame of bulbs, the bird on a perch
and a cigarette lit,
the smoke unfurled and a bow tie loose.
Hands, magic, illusion
He never tells. It is a private knowledge
bright in the corner of a room,
the truth of the act in a single mind.
Because the essence of a trick
is the same for a soul,
that a secret kept is a space in the world,
the gaps on a page or a dream that fades,
the second in a day or year
untold. There are moments held
and moments known, the pain of a past
or glittering love,
the left out facts that make us whole.