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  • I have been spending my days inside a vast building that seems to contain the Universe, or at least relics from all millenniums. There, behind a door, is a room open to daylight where fish swim in an untroubled pond.
    I work in the Scholars Garden to interrupt the ravages of time. Wood columns that were once a part of a steep mountain forest now line the latticed walkway in the Dynastic Garden. Covered walkways and porches made from the wood of gingko, cedar and Nan trees erratically line the path among philosopher’s stones. A fountain evokes the Cold Spring.
    The garden is named for the Great Lady who donated the room, but in the older tradition it would have been called the garden of the setting moon, or the Garden of the shipwrecked Maiden, in honor of the illustrious ancestor who went down with the Titanic.
    High upon a ladder, as tall as twelve strong sons, wielding a cloth of the finest Benares silk, or a synthetic replica, I caught dust motes as they fell and filled cracks in the wood, as if suturing a wound.
    I removed the accumulation of years from the Golden River beam. This beam was cut from a single tree, transported by boat, joined with skill in an unwritten, learned profession.
    A scaffold stands, filling the entire courtyard, built not to the sun, or for an Emperor, but to reach the skylight that was leaking.
    I fill the cracks in singletree columns that line the galleries where Landscapes and Calligraphy are displayed. Interesting that the distinction between the written and the drawn is so fine as to be continuous.
    The tradition of the Scholars Garden, a place of retreat for men of great learning and high office is one that continues. Often these men of means escaped political ruin and court intrigue, or, with the ruler’s favor, could spend their days in deceptively simple surroundings.
    The appearance of simplicity takes a great number of people, often a large staff of servants. Finances are required to purchase the stones and plants, erect studios and tearooms and provide the time needed to think.
    There is a tradition of poets who drink wine and write poems about drinking wine.
    The Philosopher’s stones were found in nature, enhanced by craftsmen, and then returned to rivers for finishing.
    These stones cost fortunes and weigh tons.

    I have touched the beams and gingko lattice; through their works I sense the depth of the history and the passage of time needed to create culture.
    They have touched me in return.
    When the cold moon shines at night, much is illuminated.
    The rest remains, consigned to shadows.
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