In theory one is aware that the earth
revolves, but in practice one does not 
perceive it, the ground upon which
one treads seems not to move, and
one can rest assured. So it is with 
Time in one’s life.

—Marcel Proust 
Within a Budding Grove

Another cow was floating by us,
hilariously calm, bell-deep 
in milkweed and tansy. She looked 
right through us, until we felt 
transparent, the bright blue light 
more substantial than the two 
shades rocking our canoe. Is it Lethe 
or nepenthe eases pain, and which 
erases memory? —Another day
of clues and lapses, ramifying 
puzzles to be set and solved: 
memory, pain. . . . A meander swung us 
round under an overhang 
of karst, rain-runnelled, grotesque, 
a manageable, mini-Guilin 
—about the scale, to tell the truth, 
China had shrunk back to by then. 
What is the Gui, some kind of 
flower, cassia, maybe, “cassia wood.” 
Like petals, those terraced paddies