Above a mountain cataract, an ancient nun
weaves piney fronds and reeds.
Binding these with spider webs
will still not make of them a cloud.
The raft she’s made will help her find
the kingdom of the koi.
She strives to see the world not-as-it-is—
goal of sage and dreamer both.
The hoary fog of Zhengkui’s clouds
eclipse the convent’s permeable walls.
On winter nights, her prayer would be
to loose the vow of solitary life.
Can a whole life have been an error?
Can a woman retrace her faulty steps?
On her craft, she’ll put things right.
She’ll skim the carapace of God,
who will gather her up like a broken cup,
spooning her into his charitable palms.
from her book The Scholar’s Daughter
Louisiana Literature Press, 2008
Used by permission of the poet.