Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Practice, Aeons

My maternal grandfather, Hartog Phillipus Noordwal (HP), was a mining engineer who participated in the Alaska gold rush, an ink drafter, a calligrapher, a one time cadet of the Dutch Military Academy, an alcoholic, a difficult husband to his alcoholic wife, a man fond of the classics, a Mason who hated Catholics. He named his children Phillipus, Hypatia, Penelope. He married an English lady, one Millicent Dunton. For a time they were on the road in Vaudeville, Millie had a voice. He lost his hearing in a swimming accident and subsequent infection. That is why he was never an officer in the Dutch military. When I knew him I was fascinated with his calligraphy. He would walk around the house saying under his breath "Oh brother brother brother brother" which would come out due to his Dutch accent, "Oh Budda budda budda budda".


A quiet old man
At his desk picks a quill pen
And makes a bold stroke.

Using his vermilion ink,
He writes a single true word.
He scatters sand, sighs.
Patiently, he waits, listens.

Birdsong through windows.


As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I am sensitive to the Chinese influences that have been in my life, a student of I Ching. Practice takes a little of that flavor (or if you like of the Japanese). So does the next poem.


I came from one stone,
Egg of holy mother earth.
I rose mountainous.

I lived in the misty clouds
Above pandas and bamboo.

I left long ago,
Changed countries, shrank and split open,
Two stones, side by side.

1 comment:

  1. Great grandfather story, with a mouthful of a name, worthy of the gold rush. Vermilion ink - my grandmother used nothing else. Must have been something of the times.

    Aeons, I remember you so well, so long ago...


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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