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On a Chinese Chair & Other Poems
By: Marianne Lyon
"Pictures taken outside the city of Yangshuo on the Li River in China. The scenes were much like these images and were easily viewed out the window of our room while sitting on a Chinese Chair."
On a Chinese Chair
The nervous white butterfly
smaller than a rose petal,
brushed a quivering purple bush
hovered, then darted—
Jagged peaks veiled in green grandeur
snubbed neatly sectioned rice paddies flooded below.
Surely nature knew not to disturb
those mossy partitions, guarding nourishment so valuable.
I had been thinking about time
and what one moment would contain,
if I opened to a single fleeting duration.
I meant to just drink
my morning tea
with my feet propped
on a pillow,
but a bird’s drone and Eric Clapton’s
“drowning in a river”
blasting from the IPod inside,
a contrapuntal invention and
the prolonged roar of the Li,
like an enraged mob,
calmed into a narrow stream
for the local maid’s buckets and mops.
Likely all this noticing
lasted more than one fleeting moment
while I opened,
sitting on a Chinese chair.
"Pictures taken in the City of Lijiang, China. Each day, the retired citizens would gather at the old market square and dance."
Dancing in China
Every afternoon they amble to
time-worn cobblestone squares
garbed in ebon, ivory and lapis array,
boat shaped embroidered shoes.
Athletic convergence in ancient bodies:
bamboo post legs,
rounded hips molded from dancing sacred stories.
Mighty hands stretched by mountain work
pulled me into their moving.
Foreign yet strangely familiar,
a largeness stirred in me.
My soles felt their soulful steps,
my heart played a glissando on connected arms.
I wanted to dance the Kolo.
I wanted to dance home.
This orbiting beamed me back
to a circle of my ancestral gyre.
Grasping my uncle’s copper-burned palms,
aunt’s earth-stained fingers,
rhythmic memories of the Croatian Kolo
pushed through my feet.
Asian hands entertaining wholeness
heaved my mind back to the Chinese square.
Transported around the sacred wheel,
my gladdened feet sprang back
again and again.
"Pictures taken in the rainforest along the Kinabatangan River in Borneo. We stayed at a primitive lodge along the river with a guide and cook and took several excursions each day. The monkey is a proboscis, native to the area and known for their large nose and pot belly."
Moist ocean of green
fluid by definition
oxygen filled breath
Primal place buried
in our bones and remembrance
Babble like womb-words
spoken by droplets on leaves
Trees grown up crippled
in search of light, some limber
others hard as stone
Birds twist like glass jars
opening to the whole view
of high existence
Monkeys leap for fruit
branches bending, giving way
to free pulsing swings
Sun like coiled gold
twists through a puzzle of leaves
greeting the mud floor
Leeches hide under
squat fern waiting for a brush
of one juicy leg
Damp immortal spring
resurrecting from the rot
Eden’s profound lushBW
Marianne Lyon has been a music teacher for 39 years. After teaching in Hong Kong she returned to the Napa Valley and has been published in various literary magazines and reviews. She has spent time teaching in Nicaragua. She is a member of the California Writers Club, Healdsburg Literary Guild. She is an Adjunct Professor at Touro University Vallejo California
Her three poems were inspired by photographs that were taken by her husband Jim Lyon.