Thomas Rain Crowe

After Reading Han-Shan

How much alike are the wise man
and the drunk!
The wise man sees the light in the cloud,
the one who drinks: the cloud in the light.
Each seeing the same thing.

How I love the way Han-Shan laughs when he speaks!
And in laughing, the way he cries —
His dreams are like mine: full
of maidens in cloaks of crimson silk.

Wondering today the direction in
which my life will go, the I Ching says:
“Where disorder develops, words are the first steps.”
No word this time of crossing the great water.
But a message of keeping still.

So tonight I have made myself a cup of tea
and sit with my friends: all the words I know.
Having taken the first step toward tomorrow,
I make a bold stroke with my pen
that in this dim lights looks like one
of those court maidens Han-Shan and I know so well.
I sit for a moment in the trace of another world.
Far away from here. But like this small shack in the woods,
still home.