cold mountain (32)


who can get past the tangles of the world

Up at midnight, the lines of the text in front of me unspooling like ribbon from the bobbin. Awake before dawn, thoughts unraveling like a raw edge of fabric. Trying to serge up the day and the mind with it: the weather is gray on gray, and the clouds turning and folding back on themselves like dough invite all idle thoughts to poke their fingers in. Sinking. A cup of coffee after lunch puts an edge back on, makes neat the seams of work and thought; but the coming evening and the silent fall of an unidentified bird from the bamboo down past my window to an unknown landing draws all speculation and curiosity out again. Somewhere on a ridge a tailor sits, measure and scissors and needle in a basket by his side, idle without lassitude. I’ll go visit him sometime, when I get things together enough down here for the trip. I’ll ask him not for neat seams or even a pair of pants that fit: I’ll ask for sails, and the little boat he left moored at the crossing, and for the compass of a word. And then I’ll go.


Chinese and English pp. 56-57 here.