Friday, 5 June 2009

an 'it-should-have-happened'- outcome of the japanese waiting in black and white, moving quickly and dissonantly from lows to highs and highs to lows

Sitting in front of the kettle.
The water boiling for my guest,
my guest of honour.
The last drop of tea
is now one with him.
My hands clean the bowl
returning it
to the old beginning.
The sound of the boiling water
is the wind in the pines,
they say.
Listen -
i say to you
with my silence -
listen to the sound of light
sweeping through my body
as i turn towards the shōji
and face the garden of spring
through the transparent paper.

Gentle as a wing
his fingers stroke
the bamboo mat.

Kneeling in front of the kettle.
The whirlwind for my thief,
my thief of the sweet wound.
The last drop of tea
burns now inside.
My hands the poison
lifting the bowl
to your lips.
The sound of blood
is the storm in the pines,
they say.
Listen -
i say to you
with what's left of my day -
listen to the sound of darkness
piercing through my body
as i turn towards the wall
and face the garden of grief
through each and every stone.

Harsh as ravens,
his fingers dripping
my petals of snow.

Almost inevitable notes (waving at ffflaneur :-):

1. the 'wind in the pines' is a classic tea word, matsukaze 松風, alluding to the sound of water boiling in the kettle.
2. shōji
3. the next day after i took these pictures, the precious bowl you see here in almost every image was broken. it is not important how, or how long i have grieved - only that fate wanted these pictures to be the embodiment of such unredeemable loss. not without a sense of irony, knowing what photography means for me and what most of this blog stands for. the bowl you see in the 5th picture is its double, all the more precious now. they were my summer twins: natsu-chawan 夏茶碗 is a special type of thin, wide bowl used mainly in summer. if i had been Rilke, i would have written a Requiem for a bowl, if i had been Eliot, i would have written the perfect line: The stillness, as a Chinese jar still / Moves perpetually in its stillness. As it is, i only have my clumsy pictures to remember.


  1. your photos are lovely and not at all clumsy! I love in meeting of green and pink - parrot like.

  2. translation of entire cole porter songbook into japanese ;)
    there are surely some tea-utensils which still survive ;)
    (and yes, half of the pictures may go - only keep good memories)
    (others, more harmonic ones - or even with juxtaposition, are fine)

  3. Ernsthaft bekomme ich bei Deinen Fotos Heimweh...


  4. I see your bright & lively heart.. simply beautiful!!!

  5. I think that 'delicious' the very own form as you photographs, and that these his photographies show

  6. Absolutely, stunningly beautiful. Your words, your palette, join to create such gorgeous works of arts.

    I am truly honored to know you, honored to share a certain space with you.

  7. A quiet and beautiful blog here... I will slowly and walking softly come back again... and again...

  8. the increasingly dark green becomes quite ominous...

    i'm sorry about the bowl - some things mysteriously steal little pieces of our hearts...

  9. Mourn not the broken
    bowl for
    the space within

  10. these photos are far from what you might call "clumsy" :-)

  11. que c'est magnifique la couleur, la texture, c'est un art de vivre tout à fait zen j'adopte!

  12. a breathtaking voyage into "surrounded By a grace of sense"

    (keeps a post well grounded, a couple of footnotes :-))

  13. The act of attention is an act of love --- multiplied in attention to the transitory and fragile. Thank you for looking again and again.

    I love the two poems (or the two parts of the one poem) --- but also the silence between them, the other poem, the unspeakable one these gesture toward....

  14. So quite, peaceful and delighful... I had a beautiful moment discovering your floating bridge and I loved it.
    So sensitive!
    Take care
    Loulou from New Delhi

  15. Is that green thing tea?

    You must try Kashmiri tea!

    Sorry to hear about your bowl.

    Keep well,


    (can't write for a while..I know you'll say I can't write anyhow!)

  16. Sz, i couldn't resist that combination either, even if green and pink are not so easy colours to get right, at least not for me :-)

  17. i hope that 'cole porter songbook' is meant as a compliment for my poems :-P with you i can never know, Eneles - wouldn't a link to it make a nice gift? i want to know what i have translated into japanese :-)

    and also, i would love to here which your favourite are.

  18. Michael :-)

    (i thought you would have liked the japanese waiting better)

  19. Noura, i know you can't resist tea and bowls and petals :-)

    Ach, Miu, ich auch! :-) ich sehne mich nach Japan, wieso denkst Du, dass ich solche Bilder mache? hab eine Kombination von wabi-sabi und starken, strahlenden Farben versucht, es freut mich sehr, dass es Dir gefallen hat!

    my "bright and lively heart" - Peter, that is a wonderful thing to say, thank you...

    Adelino, "delicious" is indeed a lovely word, in many ways :-) thank you for looking...

  20. ah, S., dear S., it is _my_ honour to have you here as my guest in my tea rooms, even if they are much humbler than yours... i am so happy you liked both photos and words...

    Owen, thanks for coming by and for your kind words... i will wait for your return of slow and soft walking :-)

    Manuela, that was indeed my intention, the change from the pale light to the ominous dark - i have got this idea about a 'poetics of tea', in which i would like to explore its 'dark bitter' addictive qualities as well - something like a devil's elixir :-) quite un-Japanese this, yes :-)

  21. merc, my dear friend:

    Mourn not the broken
    bowl for
    the space within

    perhaps it is for this that i needed to make this post: so that you can make me the gift of this wonderful poem. now the space of my heart where the broken bowl has settled glows with a different light.

    swiss! i have promised you more floating petals in tea bowls since my earlier post on this topic, so i was glad to be finally able to deliver :-)

    Simona, thank you... but even if my photos were far from 'clumsy', let's say, they were perfect, they would still be 'clumsy' in a way: they retain this ideal image of the bowl in its fullness of life, and by that, paradoxically, they only point more acutely to what lies at their core: that loss, that death. it is like they make a promise of redemption they cannot fulfil. oh i know, they have no such claims, the 'clumsiness' doesn't reside in them but in my hands which don't know how to bend under the weight of time, how to receive the gathering of time in a gracious way...

  22. omami, un peu de ta "vie en rose" et "vie en bleu" ici, n'est-ce pas? :-) mais avec des cotes plus sombres, ton blog n'a aucun coin d'ombre, il n'est que fraicheur et optimisme :-)

    OH, ffflaneur!!! this is indeed the highest praise, that one line - i don't know how i could accept it, but i am humbly grateful that you associated it with my post...

    Emese, ce bine-mi pare ca te aud din nou :-)

  23. James, coming from you, such kind words directed towards my 'poems' - it is overwhelming. i get happy like a child when i hear you say that you love my words... and also "the silence between them, the other poem, the unspeakable one these gesture toward", which is more important - and hidden :-) i would imagine, but you see right into it. as always.

    Loulou, thank you for visiting! i am glad you enjoyed the floating bridge. i have already taken a look at your indian pictures, i will go back to look and say more :-)
    for now, just hi and thanks!

    billoo, now you are not doing me justice: you know that i have always said your writing is wonderful, and that you should give it a serious thought, i imagine a children book written by you, with lovely drawings - not my pictures, they are too bleak for that, i am afraid...

    i don't know Kashmiri tea :-(

  24. compliment? no, you got enough compliments here - which is very practical as people from the chorus of superlative don't have to discuss actual content ;)

    I like most the three with color almost gone, then 1str_resize.jpg, if you make it straight

    and finally the 2-3 last ones, especially if you make white less white

  25. Eneles, i am relieved :-) a compliment would have been a huge change indeed, and this from someone hating changes would have been indeed worrisome. i think you shouldn't bother to read the texts anyway, they are even more boring than the pictures :-)

    thank you for letting me know about the images which still managed to get your attention.

    however, i strongly disagree that my other readers don't discuss the 'content' - there might be different opinions about what 'content' means or what makes a 'good' photograph, or what a post intends to say. i think that most people here tend to respond more to the emotions and poetic suggestions of the posts, than seek to 'judge' the pictures by themselves. that is why this is different than, let's say, a photography forum where people just give notes to pictures.

    of course, being in love with alterity as i am, i can't be immune to the charm of dissenting voices :-P

  26. our proverb says that self-deprecation is worse sin than vanity

    it is not that poetic/poetiiique mood of the CoS escaped me, in the world of artists and poets whole is not made of parts but is rather creating a certain mood or message. for us, the lower middle class, the picture is a picture and series is a series. also, once there is text, the direct communication between artwork and spectator is gone, and it is different art. so forgive my my obscure cole porter jokes (new barber album is cole porter songbook ;))
    I was just trying to imagine what japanese cole porter would look like :P

  27. Roxana - the loss of the bowl means so much - an object that has such concentrated power within its making is very powerful in its breaking. But I will tell you what my great mentor, the Japanese poet Kijima Hajime told me, that the highest element of Japanese aesthetics is "perishability". Beauty - such as the beauty of cherry blossom - is intensified because it is only transitory.

  28. Eneles, i understand that you want to make me appear as a far bigger sinner than you, but let me doubt that :-P

    i could let you get away with your obscure jokes if you sent me the Barber album, for example :-) but yes, it was a bit unexpected to hear that you don't like my texts either, this is indeed a big change :-)

    i am relieved to hear that the poetic mood hasn't escaped you, i thought you would be completely immune to it :-) at least you seem so, in all your comments. i gather then that it is your decision to ignore that and just concentrate, as a genuine Walter Faber (who else! :-), on evaluating the photographs on their own. i am grateful for that too, of course. but if other readers choose to just dwell in that 'poetic' mood and tell me about their feelings, or take the post as a whole - it's their choice too and i am happy to welcome their words.

  29. 'It is death to mock a poet, to love a poet, to be a poet' The White Goddess, Robert Graves.

  30. Neil, what a great great phrase, how beautiful:

    "an object that has such concentrated power within its making is very powerful in its breaking."

    i am even more convinced now that i indeed had to make this post, just had to, so that i receive all these gifts which alleviate my heart...

    perishability, indeed. it's a bit of a paradox: i am fascinated with it, but there is something in me resisting and fighting against it. but this explains too why all japanese art is suffused with a gentle melancholy - perhaps some of what i do here as well, but also: violent melancholy, some other contradiction :-)

  31. yes merc -
    poets and death... so strange... such an endless story...

  32. Ce frumuseti,nici nu stiu care-i mai frumoasa si ce bine da cea alb-negru intre toate...

  33. Avec ce mélange de poésie champêtre fabuleux fleur qui ose mourir dans la douce lumière de l’insouciante. Très belles couleurs , dans ce décore d’un japon authentique que nous aimons , toi Roxana tu donne dans la gaité .
    félicitation pour ton travail qui berce dans la senteur...

  34. PS. for Eneles:

    my previous deduction about you-not-liking-the-texts was based - well, it is not really a deduction, since you provided a clear answer to my question:

    "i hope that 'cole porter songbook' is meant as a compliment for my poems"

    and you replied: "no, no compliment" :-)

    but i get it that you didn't notice i was specifically asking about "poems" and not "images" :-) i am sorry for them being so dark, but what else would one expect from a floating bridge?

    of course your 'evaluation' is needed :-)

    (and i am still waiting for that gift, that was no joke!)

  35. Edith, multumesc mult :-) nu e chiar alb-negru, poate asa apare pe alte monitoare?

  36. oh, Allan, comme j'aime ca:

    "fleur qui ose mourir dans la douce lumière de l'insouciance" - c'est comme un vers d'un poeme, incroyable... oui, parfois je me demande comment les fleurs osent mourir - ou plutot, comment les dieux osent les laisser mourir...

    merci de tout coeur.

  37. Your world is very beautiful.

  38. thank you, Rachel, for your kind words.

  39. Eneles, thank you so much. now let's hope that the Barber-songs will make me strong enough to contemplate the Seas of dreams :-) but i have a feeling they will make this even harder.