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Month 5:18 “Visit to Da Ci’en Temple”

VISIT TO DA CI’EN TEMPLE  [revision #32]

Someone has rested a bamboo broom
within the split trunk
of an old tree.

Long whisks tied flat
with red string  — like sticks
of incense ready to be lit.

I rest too, sitting on a bench
in the monks’ courtyard, fanning
my brow.

                           Tomorrow
will this broom sweep away sun-warmed
twigs and petals? or brush cool
puddles of rain
down to the garden?

I wish for a breeze.
I wish for songbirds
flocking to brooms.


by Therese L. Broderick


NOTE: I intend for this poem to be, primarily, a designed system of sound: the sound of my speaking voice when its first priority is to the sounds of words. This poem is a combination of fact and fiction. FACTS: Recently I visited the temple near the Great Goose Pagoda in Xi’an, China; I was using a hand-fan; I saw a bamboo broom placed inside a split tree trunk; the broom was tied flat with red string; I saw incense sticks burning near the temple; earlier that week I had seen zoo employees sweep away rain puddles with bamboo brooms. FICTIONS: Wishing for birds to flock to brooms is a contrived wish which I didn’t add to this poem until after writing about 20 revisions; I was standing instead of sitting on one of the benches.

If you want to learn more about how I designed the sounds in this poem, read the first comment below.

About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

3 responses »

  1. poetryaboutart

    ADDITIONAL NOTES ABOUT THE SOUNDS IN THIS POEM: I revised this poem, in many cases, for the sake of sound. I wanted a simple flow of words that might resemble the repetition of a fan going back-and-forth in still air. I chose to use both “rested” and “rest” as basic repetition, to reinforce the similarity of myself on vacation and the broom-sweepers taking a break from their chores. I chose to use “brow” instead of “face” in order to link to the word “tomorrow.” I chose to use the phrase “brush cool” as two mono-syllable words because that rhythm reminded me of the long steady strokes of the broom-sweepers who were brushing away the rain puddles at the zoo. I chose lots of short “i” sounds in the second stanza because they remind me of little sticks. In this poem, I paid attention to all the soft and hard “s” sounds, like sounds of sweeping or of incense sizzling. (Once I read in some essay that writing poems requires coming to terms with the “s” in language.) I chose three hard “s”/”z” sounds in the last stanza: breeze, birds, brooms. I chose the word “wish” in order to recall the ritual burning of incense which is performed in order to carry wishes on the winds to the gods above. Wishes on wind, birds on wind, fanning the wind. Chores and rest. Singing (like the birds and like poets) about rest and chores. “Da Ci’en” I still don’t know how to pronounce; this phrase poses a major challenge of sound to me. “Da Ci’en” refers to maternal grace; however, I did not consciously intend motherhood to be a theme of this poem. Fanning is a graceful feminine behavior, I suppose, but is it motherly?

  2. rationaloptimist

    A very lovely poem.

  3. the sounds are well nested and i actually thought “imagist” when I read it…red ribboned brooms twigs and petals. droplets of water pushed like your poem about the ducklings and mallard.

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