The Willow Pattern

Observe my delicate Koong-see, whey-faced

beside the lattice fence and warming

in her palm my gift of an ivory bead.

 

In the palace garden’s midnight

blue the apple tree lets fall its fruit

as Koong-see walks and thinks of love.

 

Close by, you see the suitor’s

tilting barge, his chests of gold and jade

which turn the mandarin’s head

 

and here’s the drunken duke waving

his horsehair whip as we tiptoe

from the wedding feast across the bridge.

 

Observe the stippled willow leaves –

how like the feathers of our souls

as we fly from the porcelain rim.