Jane Hirshfield





Anatomy and Making

In Chinese painting, there are flowers with bones,
flowers that are boneless.

Also in trees, men, mountains, horses, and houses.

A calcium not subject
but angle
the brush is held by, minerals into.

Fox hairs are soft,
yet fox bones and fox teeth are in them.

Dragon veins, the space between mountains is called.

Lu Ch’ai wrote, “When painting a rock, paint all three of its faces.”

I think of the two Greek masks, one laughing, one weeping,
and then of the third he would have found missing—
mask-face of wonder? of anger? of rigor?
a child’s look before sleep?

Lu wrote,
“There is only one thing to be said here: rocks painted fully are living.”

And then, of painting people,
“Hands slipped into sleeves are warm, no feeling of coldness.”