Animal spirits hover, curious to watch
what I make from their remains: cow skin
parchment, weasel fur brush, goose wing feather,
fish bone ink. So much at stake to mark & mar.

A paradox of exactitude, I must relax
to control my quill or metal nib,
to unify size & slant as I translate
words into shapes, music into curved flags.

Behold my monastery masterpiece!
As grapes into wine went silence
into script, the secret of my fingerprints
ink-stained for all to see.

Go ahead, sing this page!
Veni creator spiritus!
I know you sense it in you
many lifetimes later:

the wildness of ink, its flow & fade,
spread & flake, the magical powers
of sandalwood, cinnabar, clove,
the heart strike of vermillion.

Published in Turtle Island Quarterly