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Stolen from an evening song

It is a painting by some Chinese scholar
Who does not only write but paints,
Whose script is both text and light,
Color and cry at once.

There, a bird is silent on stilts,
Although its shadow burns
The edge of Xuan.
Or, to represent
An ancient art, those quick blotches
Spelling for us two or three bells,
Repeating a monk’s call for alms.

If we need to fix our artist’s hut --
Where he had been taught to write --
We must observe him draw
The characters for home.
Is there a window,

A hint of a door, his mother patiently
Taking his hands and pressing
Flesh to paper?

In the painting too should be evenings
Of the artist as a boy,
Leaning his head
Toward his mother’s lips
While she whispers
About black flies buzzing
Or the burnt leaves of Chinese fir.

There, her hands on paper
Steady his eyes and ears;
But always it teaches him
How to unlatch a door, a window,
By pointing his brush strokes home.

Centuries later, we are still
Wondering how that bird
Could stay so silent; or why
A cricket needs to teach another --
Two strokes of the stylus
Just about right -- a dozen notes
Stolen from an evening song?
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Submitted on May 02, 2011

1:03 min read
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    "Stolen from an evening song" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 30 Jul 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/85142/stolen-from-an-evening-song>.

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