your entire life

is locked inside your sleep.

from The Changing Room, poem: “Hypnosis”

Zhai Yongming (1955 - )


I remember now.

This heart-mind-river has picked up the cobalt-blue thread again.

A trace-line of what-once-was

twirling around the fingers of an open hand.

I tie the invisible cord around my neck

and step out under the hazy moon.

I’m a newborn, smiling, as if I’ve never seen one.


In the dream, old woman Bright-Clarity Mountain

gives a teaching about the push-and-pull of excess.

Things were simple then.

We were all somehow fortified.

Each season-turn, our assembly was made afresh, ebullient.

The feel of course cloth on skin kept us honest.

The smoky tea we shared on the Day of First Snow - grateful.

Invisible temple hidden by branches - not an ounce of gold.

Rust and rain.

Thunder behind the clouds.

Walls of chipped stone.

Small shelves for candlelight.

Three books, two bowls, one teacup.

A brush. An inkstone. Months of silence.

Patchwork stitched upon patchwork stitched upon stitched patchwork.

Ours was the tattered regalia of the mountain faithful.

She once said every season has its lesson.

She once said some seasons can take too much from us.

When this happens, we were to keep in mind

that even mountain dragons sometimes must go deep

into the dark earthen night to find renewal.


Later, after waking,

I went through boxes of old notes and memories

looking for some lost quote I hadn’t memorized.

I wept.

A penned note from a grandfather’s hand.

Pictures of a grandmother on her last day here.

A book of recipes written out one-by-one by a former lover.

How is it

that we can all come-and-go

and never really

ever know

the other?


The sweet fragrance of rain-dampened earth

flows through the screen.

Heart-mind leaps.


(c) 2018 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) /

sound: Waning Crescent / Scenes from a Ghost Train / Forrest Fang