No. 4 & 5


Winifred Hughes  


Story Scroll

Unwinding a scroll, slowly 
and secretly, viewing 

its mountain landscape, 
narrow peaksí lift into mist, 

free-fall of water over 
stone, turned-up rooftops

on a distant shrine Ė 
is a wandering while at rest, 

setting out along the mindís 
terrain, its rugged passes, 

bridges of fine brushwork 
pendent over gorges,

a lone boatmen on the river 
moving, as your gaze

is moving, toward a lost 
pavilion, which opens

into your hand, the road
behind you already rewound.

North Point Vertigo

Blue air, superfine mist on faces 
after the long ride down sandy paths, 

bike tires skidding to a halt at the cliffís
verge over sheer drop, blue water, 

laughing-gulls flapping slowly 
below -- ragged white flags hung

over the chop -- the capeís relief map
spread out green and brown, doubling 

back on itself -- frail barrier of dune grass
and heaped sand -- to form the treacherous

channel known to fishermen as The Gut.
Thin sails, suspended motionless, tack 

against crosscurrents, and the urge to be
thrown down gathering force from nowhere

as we climb over the rock face on splintered 
wooden stairs, clinging to the rails.

Li Baiís Reach Coincides with His Grasp

 (Legend has it that the Tíang poet drowned while trying
 to embrace the reflection of the moon in water.)

He died
with the moon
in his arms.
Not content

to name it
in formal tones,
stroke it 
with a fine brush,

he knew he must 
enter it,
must become 
the moon.

He sailed his boat
into nightfall,
the grapples,

small-toothed hooks
that bound him
to the stone pier,
to his drunken shadow.

He did not hear
the slap of water,
against the piles.

He did not speak.
Looking down,
he saw 
the drowned moon.

Blinded, Li Bai 
stumbled into it,
still ignorant
of the dark.

Delaware and Raritan Canal

We are drawn to the floating world, to its frank reversals: 
this whole November morning pitched headlong. Trees 

bare or burnished, doubly rooted, grip appositional skies,
their fallen branches a closed circle, while a spent leaf plunges 

into itself, drifts there suspended. A heron, hunched motionless, 
is reflecting on another, wavering. A pointed rooftop hoists 

the oblong of its building, as we peer at the sunís silvery coin 
tossed in carelessly, the other world a wish attached to this one.

And the narrow channel deep enough to hold it all, our alternate 
lives waiting there submerged, as close as slipping in.



The copyright of 
everything published 
here remains 
with the author's.


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