The Willow pattern plate

Saucer (fragment, China, c1795)

Start with blueness and a story,

the usual lovers fleeing past

beneath the tree. Something's got to

give or take, they aren't like you

or me, their bodies morphing fast

to tree or sky. These choose sky.

In this early fragment the plate

is full of birds in flight,

thousands as there always are

the hunted with the usual bent

their story unadorned as night

fleeing the here, the now, the dark.

The years roll on, the lines are known

the food's congealing on the plate,

the detail's long forgotten now

that pair alone becoming sky

the geometrics of their fate

a pair of wings in blue and white.

The Canberra Times, December 2003