Sighs in the Yellow Leaves

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Sighs in the Yellow Leaves


I took an ivory grinning joss,

From a chest of scented sandal wood.

Now where the woven bamboos cross

It stands where a silver idol stood.


We sat beneath the drowsy fronded tree,

From shell-thin cups we sipped our amber tea.

The Mandarin laid his coral button cap

Upon the silken ocean of his lap.

He raised a finger nail with jade ornate

And carved the sky in patterns intricate.

“And so Confucius taught,” it seemed he sighed.

“The man of virtue shuns the paths of pride.

“That joss you boast is evil’s blood relation,

“Begot of demon born abomination.”

The good man sighed and wept and guzzled tea.

I filled his cup with smooth complacency,

Smiled at his measured jests and stroked his cat,

And watched the silk worms fall upon the mat.

And all the time, fanned by the sleepy wind,

The joss looked down and grinned and grinned and grinned.