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In the foreground
of the landscape print...

a smoke-nose dragon
in red armor plates
waits coiled beside
the hilltop gate--
waits with one eye
and one eye

as a dozen background swans
sweep the sky
above a rainbow bridge
and trees sacrifice their leaves
to the river water

that flows beneath the bridge
and through the valley beyond
just as the clouds flow
around peaks tufted with pines

into a distance that blanches
to white.

I am living in a world of iron,
a world of artifice...

a world to be read, imbibed, ingested--
a world to be felt within,
an outside world within.

A world to which
I am bound
with my reed bundle--

though sometimes
after the long blurred season of rain
has ended
this world lifts away:

the melted colors slide
on surfaces of puddles and streams
and before I can understand
what has happened
the whole scene disappears
as the air evaporates all liquid shapes
into the upper atmosphere.

Even the one who carries
the reed bundle
on the rising current.
Even the white background
fades to nothing.

Where am I then--?--

have I finally braved
the dragon?--have I finally
passed through the gate?

© 2010 Michael R. Patton      go back

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