The Scarf

First published on the Ekphrastic Assimilations website [site discontinued; now see Ryan James Fine Arts] in the summer of 2016. Originally written in August of 2016 for the Ekphrastic Assimilations exhibit at VALA Eastside art center in Redmond, Washington. Read more about the context and origin of this poem.

The scarf at your neck
       tugs in the wind—
              not from clouds
                     but from your dance
                            the calligraphy of home
                                   this way, that way
                                          like no one’s watching
                                                 but me.

               We were together
            when Kaz danced
         with the brush as large as a boy,
      paper on the floor
   beneath his bare feet.
Before the waltz
       he studied the void
              leaned this way
                     and that
              his eyes closed
       his hands nothing
but t’ai chi gesture.
   Then he hoisted the brush
      soaked with black
         a mop from a pail
            and danced like no one
               could see.

                                                 You wear that crimson scarf
                                          like a warrior
                                   to hide the fear
                            that someone will see your scar.
                     But soon you will dance
       always dance
like no one will ever see.

“In a Chinese Temple” — photograph by Li Li (李笠)