THE HAWK, THE SERPENTS, AND THE CLOUD

by Stanley Moss


In writing, he moved from the word I,
the word once a serpent curled between the rocks,
to he, the word once a hawk drifting above the reeds,
back to we: a nest of serpents.
Of course the hawk attacked the serpents.
She became a cloud, nursed us, mothered us,
scrubbed us with rain. I, once a serpent, know the Chinese
character for he is a standing figure,
the sign for she is a kneeling figure,
the word cloud is formed by two horizontal waves above a plain,
and that in writing Chinese
you must show feeling for different parts of the word.
Writing contains painting and painting writing.
Each is bird and sky to the other, soil and flower.

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