The occasional observations of Carolyn Kephart, writer

Monday, September 21, 2009

Twig By Twig

Tomorrow marks the autumnal equinox, officially the last day of summer. For the past many years I've viewed the event with regret either bitter or resigned, but this one's different. This winter I'll be warmed by memories of harvest and the promise of even greater growth to come.

Some time ago while writing in a forum I invented a character named Yin Qi, an imperial concubine called Autumn Grass by the other court ladies in mocking reference to her advanced age (she was thirty) and inferior rank (she was of very minor nobility, from the barbaric northern steppes). What inspired her creation was a picture by Shibata Zeshin, c. 1870:

The first time I ever saw this exquisite image, the original of which is worth a trip to New York where it lives, I instantly recalled Archibald MacLeish's riskily precious wish that

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind—

A poem should be motionless in time

As the moon climbs.

In a story I've submitted to a flash fiction journal, I describe the moon through a warrior's eyes, as a shield of gold dented from countless blows.

It is always best to fulfill old dreams before moving on to others, and to that end I'm working at joining my Ryel Saga into a single volume, with a new cover of my own design:

Then it's on to everything else, uncounted pages else. It doesn't matter, the passage of the equinoxes. I will move as the moon climbs.


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:30 PM

    I too was lucky enough to see this picture by Shibata Zeshin at Moma in 2005 with my best friends one of which has now died prematurely at aged 43.I was so fasinated I brought the print at Moma and framed it where it hangs in my Bedroom reminding me of her seasons go and come but life moves on slow but sure enjoy.Just wanted to say liked the poem.Ironically this year I have booked my holiday to see Hadrians wall where you are pictured.


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