Iris an Illusion

        the ink-charged brush
on Wang Wei’s scroll, how the stroke that will mean tree
is nothing like the one for river, though all

is smoke here, barely visible
        plumes and patches: carbon particles of ink
bleeding a border, according to competing capillarities
of fiber in the brush,

the paper. Consider
        the stroke, how it is part of the hill, part
of the middle ground on this scroll from The White Crane
series, said to be in Wang Wei’s style: repetitions

of direction
       —the roof tiles, say, “echoing” branches;
mountain valleys wrinkled, like rock fissure—
angles of juncture at points on the scroll, not themselves

interlocked there, lock inside
        the rapt observer, who gazes not over
but in and out, now seeing, now not,
an arc in the mist