in battle formation.
Thirteen year old from England captures her impression
of seeing New York City for the first time.
This series starts right after the posts on China.
Come back and follow the second installment of Carla and Megan’s Blog.
Sketchbooks in hand and one iphone to share,
two soul mates check out the big apple.
The results you will see right here.
As always, click on image for a better look.
Carved grotto rubbing on mulberry paper over pen and ink drawing 8″ x 6″
click on image to enlarge
Alone on the bamboo bridge
hunched over from the weight of her pack,
an old woman layered in rags
wails her story to the trees.
Behind the dense green curtain of bamboo
her audience listens:
fifty thousand stone Buddhas,
donors, and Bodhisattvas,
carved one thousand years ago.
For a moment I leave Dazu thinking
of the opera house back home.
Click on image to enlarge
In 2003, the world’s largest hydraulic dam transformed the Three Gorges into a deep currentless reservoir. Water flooded 28,000 acres of farmland, 13 cities, 140 towns and 1,352 villages. Eight thousand recognized archaeological sites were flooded and 1.4 million people were driven from their homes. In May 2002, my son and I took one of the last river boats through the Three Gorges before the Chinese government started to flood the area. I wrote the following poem when I returned from that trip. The drawing is from my sketchbook. While sketching on deck, another artist joined me. Unable to communicate with words, we enjoyed drawing together.
The Yangtze: Three Gorges
Coiled with mist, the cliffs rise
half a mile into the sky.
Looking up, past the trackers’ path,
past the hanging coffins, past the caves,
past the stunted trees,
I see deep blue sky.
Rising Cloud Peak.
Sage Spring Peak.
The riverboat passes villages, orange groves,
fields of pink peach blossoms.
Tall limestone walls dwarf the town.
The river roars.
followed by quiet.
Fish inscribed on White Crane Ridge:
two carp facing upstream,
one with a lotus sprig in his mouth,
mark ancient low-water levels.
On the road: barbers, plumbers, food sellers.
A welder creates jewelry with his blowtorch,
fired by a garden hose and a bottle of gasoline,
his foot pressing the bellows.
Under a red umbrella a woman sleeps,
sweet slices of watermelon by her side.
Children squat with a deck of cards.
Small groups of people eat noodles out of bowls.
Dressed in a tattered gown of silk
embroidered with dragons, an old man
sits near a persimmon tree.
All this will be underwater soon:
the temple with its wooden pavilions,
pagodas, loggias, reflecting pool,
the monkeys scampering among altars;
the storefronts, streets, houses, fields of rice.
What will happen to the Siberian cranes,
the white flag dolphin, the Chinese sturgeon,
the house tucked under a tree?
What will happen to the barbers, sellers, plumbers,
the little girl in yellow jelly shoes,
her mother selling Camel cigarettes?
In a home in Suzhou I saw this poem
on a piece of wood shaped like a banana leaf:
My mind-heart is like the reflection of the moon
in a deep pond on a snowy night
my creativity blooms like flowers
after the spring rain.
The old towpath clings to the rock face, high
on the north side of the mountain.
Trackers pulling boats on the Yangtze
sing back and forth, strange chanting melodies.
Click on image to enlarge
The warrior challenges his friend:
sticks for swords, young bodies swoop and lunge.
Play boots stomp on a pink Oriental rug.
Boys in workout gear,
black beards hooked over their ears
posture, eyebrows furrowed.
Teenaged girls are frivolous females,
fingers pointing, eyes dancing, white sheets
Buoyant and tumbling, the loyal monkey
arranges himself on a lacquered stool,
his face clown white.
Fierce eyes, quick gestures,
gongs, drums and clappers
of hardwood and bamboo;
two men somersault,
a fight in the night.
Small as the stage is,
a few steps bring you far
Liu Chin with your lazy eye, thumb on a cell phone, standing in the shadow of a man.
Where did you get the green arboretum tee shirt tucked in with a long black belt cinching your slender waist? Where did you get the gold band on your finger? Your skin
is like buffed candle wax compared to mine. Arrival, Departure, you keep us on track, gathering passports, collecting airport tax, riding baggage carts around the bend.
Liu Chin with the lazy eye, thumb on a cell phone, standing in the shadow of a man.
You, smart but young with mischief in your eyes, to us you are a banker, a teacher,
a concierge, a keeper of harmony who caters to our every wish. In the distance
you skip stones over the clear river water, reflections of weeping trees juggle for postion.
Coming from the mountains thick with vegetation,
You, Chin with the lazy eye, thumb on a cell phone, standing in the shadow of a man.
Did you sing while she held you at the age of three? Were you dancing to the drums
and suona horn, the melody of flutes egging you on? Who taught you to read
the inscriptions on bones and shells? Did you go to school? Back home, sitting
in front of my window looking out onto the Bay, my most important image of China
is you. In a small room while our group ate dinner you did an impression of a baby bird accidentally falling into the river. I see those wings I see the bird, big, but young, each layered feather in various hues of gray and black, the bend in his wings, flopping.
I see the bird accidentally fall into the river near your birthplace in the mountains