chinese ink wash

chinese ink wash
june 2011, beijing

chinese ink wash
‘Old Trees, Level Distance’ by Guo Xi, China, Northern Song dynasty (960–1127), with acknowledgements to the website of Metropolitan Museum of Art for use of this image. 

gone over
twenty years
my father
is a chinese
ink wash
you might find
deep in a library
between covers
under tracing
paper or
hung at the
back of a chinese
grocery near the
waterfront above
the co. ltd. name
and calendar month
an ink wash
nothing clear about it
yet it draws you
in and onward
into those spaces,
not the lines that
only hold out a
something known
like those bits of
of poems he’d tell us
learnt as a child
leaving the whole
out of kilter,
what’s not known
any more or
never was
now holds you
and you look
past the ridges
the thatched edges
of something
roughly known
for those spaces
you never knew,
the paths
only he knew
that are there
in the mists
nothing can
touch now,
only time deepen,
a few strokes of
grass across a mist
tell a journey of
mountains, of winters
and antlers weathered
like stone,
a dash of water
a river surface tell
torrents of backwater
streams in the night
like flickering lanes
of cobblestone
down mountains
the moon was
losing its footing
upon

i just see the
rivers and mountains
and hardly that now
the painter himself
faint amongst them
who stands us
here in colour

the painter and my father
are there in the wash
on that paper that
itself is thinning
like an edge
of moon
on the shatterings
of dream
woken from
in the violence
of remembering,
i am
i am
thinning
too.

Copyright © 2021 Peter Le Baige. All Rights Reserved

The music for the reading is from Daniil Trifonov’s completed version and recording of J.S. Bach’s uncompleted Contrapunctus 14, BWV 108:19

2 thoughts on “chinese ink wash”

    1. That ‘golly’ raised a smile, James! Thanks as ever for reading; if there’s any ‘consistency’ I’d never imagined it being in that respect. Your words, in comment or poem, always gracious!

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