Li Po, Mid-October, Gray Light Streaked with Rust-Colored Glints Over Silver Water

by Colette Inez

He lost his chance in Chang-an,
his great height above six feet
fearsome on a horse, two wives or was it three
in varied outposts of the empire.
Hadn’t he arrived at the palace wine soaked and disheveled?
Hadn’t lackeys bowed low to scrape dung from his boots?

On another path, Li Yang-ping, calligrapher,
one who collected poems for posterity
held his friend’s head to more cups
of wine when night began to swallow the road, and Li Po 
wandered like a stream into the shine of  water-
yellow leaves trembling at the quake of boots,
fish staring up from his kettle.

Friends–for he valued friendship–take me home
wherever my name is known. He called out to sloshed boats
of reflected stars, to untamed horses on the moon,
and woke to the next morning, its peach-colors
the face of his youth in the lordly mountains.