Author photo by artist, Walter Bakowski

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A cup of water, Suzhou, October 1945

The cup of water



the wind

a leaf leaving its mother.


It has heard

husbands and generals give orders,

grandparents talk of gods and ancestors,

children conversing with a friend or sorcerer

whom no adult can see.



on bench or table

 it hears

 the swish of a broom,

 a cat scratching at a closed door,

 the clock complaining

 that it’s only a clock,

 a button torn from a lover’s robe

 roll across a bedroom floor.


The cup of water is

 raised to the lips of

 a monk,

 a fisherman,

 a fortune teller,

 an orphan.


 The cup of water waits

 to be refilled,

 to be of use

 or forgotten.


 It waits for footsteps,

 the nearness of a hand.


 * This poem was commissioned by the Victorian Government as part of a gift to Jiangsu Province, China, honouring their sister-state friendship.

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