finned peak was suddenly revealed. The next morning I got up before dawn to view the whole mountain, and interviewed a local shaman before returning. On the flight back from Pokhara to Kathmandu the sky was clear and offered a panorama of the Himalayas, which looked pristine but are threatened by global warming and pollution. The poem ‘Creation of the Himalayas’ views them through Remedios Varo’s painting ‘Embroidering Earth’s Mantle’. The spirit of the painter Georges Braque hovers behind ‘Portrait of a Coast Redwood Forest with Mandolin’, which is one in a sequence of poems from my stay among the giant coast redwoods of northern California.
To an Ancient Cypress after Du Fu
You stand in front of Kongming’s shrine with branches of green bronze, roots of rock. Your hoary, rain-soaked bark spans forty metres, your black crown pierces heaven. The shrine is long forgotten but you still draw worshippers who come to gaze as clouds cling to you from the ghostly depths of Wu Gorge. An icy moon rises over the snowy peaks perched on your fronds. You are the road winding me back to my hut near Brocade River, where ministers and warlords once sheltered in the same temple and giant trees towered over the ancestral plain. My derelict doors and windows reappear on your boughs.