Drinking Games on Jade Mountain

(“Jade Mountain Illustrating the Gathering of Scholars at the Lanting Pavilion,” artist unknown, China, 1790, Minneapolis Institute of Art permanent collection)

No one knows
who carved the ancient gathering
of scholars at Lanting Pavilion
into a jade boulder.

Or how the rice wine
they drank
on a cool March day
tasted on their tongues.

Or how the poems they wrote
sounded out loud
after so many drainings
of the floating goblets.

No one knows
what the lone poet felt
when he left the others to find
the secret passage

up the mountain
where water might run
pure enough to drink
from cupped hands.

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