Hands and Feet

(Dedicated to the Chinese artist, Shanqing Zeng, who was banished by his government and now resides in the U.S.)

Artist Zeng Shanqing
Medium Ink on Paper
Size 35 x 38.4 in. / 89 x 97.6 cm.

These Tibetan hands and feet
walk into the canvas
of a New York gallery
in silence
like pilgrims
in search of
a bowl of freedom
after a long exile
to unknown directions.

We never know
how they captured the eyes
of the artist,
or the soul of the audience.
They talk with
swollen knuckles,
wounded joints,
fists of skins
that hold a bowl of water
like tender lovers

reunited after turmoil
of burnt temples,
charred limbs,
and severe weather,
that tempered another
purpose -
to walk on the roads
for a bowl of water
seated on a half lotus
made of exhausted toes

painted by the tired fingers
of an artist
from the land of the oppressor
and the oppressed
where artists
must follow
other hands and feet
to enjoy the freedom of exile:
on a canvas
in the West
lingering in our mind,
or to drink
time in history.

1990 New York

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