Monday, August 28, 2006

Seven Levels of the Waterfall

(for Lien Stevens)

[map by Matthew Kelly]

Friendship seems like coconuts,
While others appear like Badari fruits …
Even after the lotus stalk is broken,
The filaments cling to each other.
The Hitopadesha: An Ancient Fabled Classic, trans. G. L. Chandiramani (1995)

Saturday, 12th January 2002
Viengtai Hotel, Bangkok

Dear Lien,

You were always curious to know exactly what I was writing in my notebook. Well, here’s part of the answer, at least. The Chinese landscape painters – some of them poets also (Wang Wei, for instance) – used to compile long scrolls to describe a region or a journey. Or else they might follow a river from its source in the mountains all the way down to the mouth.

This is a little scroll I’ve made to evoke our trip. Each tanka is composed of observations, bits of conversation, snippets from here, there and everywhere.

You were our guide, our Virgil, so it’s only fitting it should go to you.

Love, Jack

No comments: