lines for qi baishi (1864-1957)dear qi baishi your neat little cottages worry me a lot are those just vacant places? aren’t folks sleeping inside or waiting for a son to get back with herbs from town? outside the geese seem typically content ducking for snails or just floating the centuries away as in so many pictures the water is calm this evening but the steep bank under the house seems ready to crumble rusty soil too loosely packed huge gnarled elms cast bad bad shadows all black grey and green ready to tumble in on the picturesque thatched roof you sure no one’s inside?
at kingstown lodgetake some simple words with you when you visit kingstown lodge someday say, drifting or stubborn wristband catheter and intravenous– watch what odd tricks they play it’s alphabet soup today for breakfast for lunch and dinner everyday ken and kim take them through kandee break, phil and phoebe (phun from the philippines) do physio fun; see them nod and sing with stan at sensory stimulation sunday mornings, the soothing voices–oh so soothing miles and molly mixing up music medley oh such joy to jiggle jello can you spell words like sedative (shh, sleeptime) or perhaps merely morphine?
for alvar aalto (1898-1976)i have met you now, alvar in this small northern town beside linked lakes and too many aspens where you returned after fussy cambridge massachusetts and haughty paris having been as big as anyone in such places here your poems are scattered around life size and human scale dizzying glass and steel left behind i walk amongst your sober chapels elementary schools senior homes a first-aid station or student cafeteria of brick and wattle made tell me alvar why we think man is no kin of clay
no crybabies herethey are into the last things silence, stare, uneasy shuffle groans and whimpers but they seldom cry that one necessary act we all performed at our various beginnings no matter when or where here, there’s no weeping they soil their diapers nonetheless