AQUALLIGRAPHY OF THE 10,001 PATHS
It is autumn in the gardens of the empress’ summer palace
On your first visit to the imperial city. On your way in,
A slight, white-haired woman snags your attention towards
The quiet corner of the courtyard away from the crowds.
She holds a long brush at an angle above the cobblestones,
And dips it into a pail of water. Then, she brings the tip
Onto the stones and writes a T’ang poem from memory,
Of Tu Fu bidding Li Po goodbye under a wintry moon.
Like dragonflies, the characters dip and rise, one moment
On the stone, and in the next becoming mist in the slant
Of sunlight. Soon, she finishes the poem and pauses to view
The last glistening line of words fade into nothingness.
She straightens her back, goes back to the stone she first
Started from and begins yet again. It is said that she knows all
The poems of the T’ang masters by heart. And everyday now,
This is what she does: writing each one lovingly with water
Until the first snow falls