Friday, January 29, 2021

Perseverance: a Message from the Past


"Clinging Juniper"


by Joyce Wycoff

Two hundred years ago today Nanzan brushed
perseverance on a scroll and added his chop.
Did he know I would need that message
on this very day when my spirit dropped?

What was he doing on that day
long ago that focused him so
on this one word among all others?

I see him sitting there, brush in hand,
ink pots ready, rice paper stretched flat:
His heart dripping rejection onto the paper,
His mind retracing the long, circular track.

What dream had just died?  What
long-held belief turned brown on that
winter day?  Which lover walked away?

See him as his chest rises on a deep
inhale and releases in a day-long sigh.
He looks around, sees what no longer is,
Picks up his brush and puts away why.

What brings him back to this place 
of paper and ink?  What solace is there
in this forming of art from pain?

We see him bent over the page, characters
flowing, his graceful, steady hand 
sending his only gift down the days and
hours straight into the waiting pool of our minds.  
What bridge carries his touch across two
hundred years to give me the strength
to pick up my choices once more?