Sunday, 13 June 2010

haiku sequence from Blithe Spirit vol 20 no2


Hoops within Hoops
(for Isao Ohnishi, Lacquer Bowl Master)

bamboos shade
boards season
rain penetrates

sharpness of a blade
hair split falls
snow settles

plane set
tissues of grain
coil from the edge

slats soak
become hoops
the mindful eye

rings of grain
each inch
his life

hoops split
through each
a whorl of sun

rice cleaves
steel pares the brush
of her hair

circles smoothed
each simple gesture
of the hands

orders of tools
radiate from
his centre

a form refines
spins hoop by hoop
the test of sun

lacquer tree
bleeds summer
into the bowl

dark resin filters
in china’s whiteness
he reflects

a river flows
dark red
over the vessel

lacquer replaces oil
oil replaces lacquer
brush circles the rim

with speed
a surface crumples
his ageing skin

hoops within hoops
wares gather spirit softness
deepens time

The Japanese cedar is remarkably stable and has the straightest grain, cut and seasoned it waits to be split, scribed and planed by the master. His tools are hand made from bamboo, the finest steel and human hair. He sits cross legged surrounded by them. The planed hoops, glued by rice paste and clamped by bamboo, are sanded by charcoal, to fit inside each other perfectly, and tested by holding to the sun. They hang in the workshop to dry for many years.
The master finally assembles them one inside another, they are planed inside and out, into the shape of the vessel, constantly refined until perfect.
The lacquer tree is tapped and filtered into porcelain; the brush he uses is made from human hair, lacquer flows over the bowl, the bowl spins on his hand. He regrinds and relacquers it many times, until the depth glows. There is no hurry; the surface can crumple in an instant.
With time the colour changes, matures, settles down over the centuries.

bowing many times
bent under the lightness
of his smile


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