A Buddhist Retreat Behind Broken-Mountain Temple
In the pure morning, near the old temple,
Where early sunlight points the tree-tops,
My path has wound, through a sheltered hollow
Of boughs and flowers, to a Buddhist retreat.
Here birds are alive with mountain-light,
And the mind touches peace in a pool,
And a thousand sounds are quieted
By the breathing of a temple-bell.
- Ch'ang Chien
The artists painting Cuba from memory
or from photographs, from family stories
of the exodus, from dreams, know
their bloodlines are not clear. The work
is mongrel, neither Cuban nor American.
They paint masks, figures floating, palm
trees set on pedestals. They sculpt women
locked in birth. What they want is a particular
place. What they find is borrowed space.
In hand-colored gelatin silver prints or wood
with oil and gold leaf or oil on linen or on
masonite or on carved locust bark, they discover
new rooms, dream landscapes, regions of origin
as small as phone-booths, as expansive as cane
fields, rented, tenanted, temporary.
—Interprete mi silencio—, one says.
They are like poets scratching out their
metaphors sideways on pieces of lined paper,
crossgrain, drafting possibilities,
These artists ask and never receive replies,
remember without mementos, feel without touching.
They have heard of the royal palm, seventy feet tall
and seek its landscape. How odd its trunk
is almost hollow, its roots mere threads.
(Poem by Jill Peláez Baumgaertner )