From Watercolor Painting of a Bamboo Rake -- Brooding Heron Press, 1994
Flakes of ash, they light on leaves and grass on this bluff above the Yellow Sea, not yellow but a dented turquoise floor, violent despite a cloudless afternoon. We've left the guided tour. My sons discover a notch on the hillside, a cave closed by swords of brambles. We duck and enter the cool dark, nervous and no matches. There's a glimmer, a niche, and beyond--endless blue. Sentries crouched here, spying at enemy ships during the occupation. Old photos show Japanese soldiers in Nanjing perfecting bayonet drills on bound Chinese prisoners. From our lookout we spy white flags of waves marching in afternoon sun. We emerge, blinking like newborns. To our right, Laoshan--Old Mountain-- rises holy and green. Below, tired Chinese tourists straggle back to busses. Here, black butterflies whirl like bits of paper, harmless, their occupation of the hill complete, the small pages of their wings chronicling the history of life and death on earth in a language lighter than air.