Here, in thinner air, we move
more easily through deep canyon,
myth, and mountain.
Here, the earth stirs at our walking,
amber streams rise from our heels.
The veins of the hills open
and flow at dusk.
Ribs curve dry and brittle
Heart beats drums.

We emerge into a new world
carrying in brown hands
feathers from ancient selves.
In the winds circling the moon
they dance licking each limb
into old forgotten fever.

Messengers come plaintive panting
from lower hibernating lands
hump on their backs
our sloughed off skins
and curl upon themselves.

We curl around each other,
double rainbow after storm.
The new moon carries the old
in her blue arms.
Yet must we singly weave
new cloud new earth new sky
spin from silent eye
new webs to hold
across a windy dawn.

Kiki from Lamia,
Onne from Vietnam
and Mabel from China
cradle me.

I try not to meditate,
not to sing to myself.

(We can’t find your breath.
Breathe faster.

I was meditating,
I explain. I always do.
Or sing. In machines.

Well don’t. Not now.
We can’t find your breath.
It’s taking too long.)

Brief tuneless metallic tunes
chant in the empty room.
A mobile dangles from steel hooks above me.
They only took down the St Patrick's Day greens
(recycled from Christmas) this week.
No art in the halls
of the half dead half alive.

Kiki and Ohne and Mabel
watch from behind the window.
watch the monitor,
angles and degrees
of killing notated precisely
in black and white.
The only art here:
a green thin lay line mapped
by Onne or Kiki or Mabel
flows across me
marking the edges
of the killing field.

They should give you lovely pictures
to look at here
I exclaim.
Day after day you are below ground
no sun, no sky, no pictures.

When we came to this new building
our boss wanted it clean--
no pictures, says Kiki
as she checks my position.
Turn your neck a little.
They don’t want to silence me forever.

In the old place, there were pictures--
forests and mountains and lakes --
Someone even cut out our faces
and glued them into trees.

Later I meet Han Cho, M.D.
smiling in pink Ralph Lauren.

Can I swim in a pool? I ask.


Can I kill the cells twice a day? I ask.


Can I swim in the ocean after?  I ask.

Yes.You have a beautiful scar.
We see many.

Later, after seeing three of my patients
I drive to Julie’s,
her studio walls filled with pictures,
of her singing students and three children,
each from other lands.

Sing as low as you can go
as high as you can fly.
I sing. 
Your range!  You have four octaves!
I never hear this.

What use at almost 60?
I retort.
Besides, I growl or squeak.

That's the easy part.
She laughs.
Download karaoke from Amazon .
Whatever you like to sing--
for your head voice,
for your chest voice...

For my life.

The Abbess of Jakko-in walks and asks:

Is there anything that does not change?

The maples burn with their own death.
Beside their ashen trunks,  stones
gleam with moss and bamboo-ladled blessings.

Is there anything that is not painful?

A bony leaf shatters in the pond
where suns and moons of coins
catch fire.

Is there anything that is not empty?

Paper prayers hang like moths
on a brushwork branch
against a smoking sky.

Is there anything that is unselfish?

The iron brazier smokes with incense
clouding the torii gate
like a dragon’s breath.

You are too close for dreaming yet.
Your image casts graceful shadows
on the ricepaper walls of my heart.
It seems you have always been there.

Moving through air,
your hands’ strong lines
reveal your fine brushwork,
betray your silence,
draw tales from the heart.

As their lines unfold in space
I come to see
the untold you.

Not knowing you
yet recognizing still--
not, perhaps, needing
knowing any more --
I see the delicate, dancing lines
of your fierce calligraphy.