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David Chorlton

The Lost Teacher

Where the wind cut low across the treeless
hills with their edges of stone,
Mister Shaw took his paints
to mix with earth he scooped bare-handed
so heíd have more than the colour
on the canvas. His job
was teaching us to draw, but he showed
us his landscapes so we saw
that something more than lines
matters in art. There were the sodden
inclines, the cloud tinted curves
and tors jutting into what light
the sky could spare, and there was the haunted rain.
The draughtsmanship needed
to depict such a place
couldnít be taught. After the uphill slog
to reach the right view, all was guesswork
as to where, beneath the stubborn grass,
to find the bones.

Visiting Du Fu

There isnít much on Du Fuís mind today
outside of dragonflies
which he watches from beside the river.
Once in a while he points out a tint
in the wings, and then goes back into himself.

Heís too quiet to be good company
and I keep asking questions he wonít answer:

Does every raindrop contain a grasshopper?
Is there a mountain inside every cloud?

He looks at me and smiles
as if I ought to know the answer.
Heís so contented, it irritates me
and I wish I hadnít come here
to see him float on time

as it flows into another day. Du Fu says
even the orioles, as they come and go,
yellow and black, singing to the light,
know that the time is always now.
I tell him Iím from an age far off in the future

when knowledge exists in fragments
that arrive without instructions
on how to put them together, and not a moment goes by
without somebody trying to attract our attention
and sell this or that. He returns to his gazing

while I canít name a single dragonfly.
What kind is that one? I ask,
and he replies,

Donít interrupt me when Iím doing nothing.

©2013 by David Chorlton

David Chorlton was born in Austria, grew up in England, and spent several years in Vienna before moving to Phoenix in 1978. He pursued his visual art and had several shows as well as writing and publishing his poetry in magazines and collections, the latest of which is The Devilís Sonata from FutureCycle Press. Although he became ever more interested in the desert and its wildlife, the shadow side of Vienna emerges in his fiction and The Taste of Fog, which was published by Rain Mountain Press. His chapbook, Melancholy's Architecture, has been published online by Slow Trains.

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