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



Marjorie Evasco