A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 13, Number 3, September 2019

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Autumn Noelle Hall
Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, USA

Here There Be Dragons

broken Yin lines
solid Yang lines making up
all the elements

We have hiked the downhill switchbacks to the pond. Surrounded by a spruce stand on one side, boulder-bound aspens on another, and open to high meadow sunlight between, the pool is a hand mirror in the mountains' palm. I have come here to better-grasp the I Ching trigram for Tui, the Joyous Lake.

drinking in
ponderosa perfume—
its cream soda scent

Some of the trees have been thinned, their trunks left to decay back into the forest floor. While my husband, for whom I Ching symbols are second nature, waits patiently, I begin to drag logs—twice as long as I am tall—and align them parallel to the water’s edge. As one might construct a house, I build my trigram from the bottom up.

my body has a wisdom
my mind does not know

Hauling two me-length logs, I set a Yin line’s doubled hyphen - - atop the two Yang lines giant equal sign = . Solid, solid, broken; masculine, masculine, feminine; Yang, Yang, Yin. Tui, the serene—clear water we can see through. Tui, the shining—reflecting light back to the world. Tui, which instructs us to be illusion-free and joyful together.

dragonfly gleam
the way one clasp fastens
to its mate

Hand-in-hand, we are circumnavigating this living Tui together when my husband spies a tiger salamander suspended in the water. Easily the length of his mountain-man hand and still sporting a spotted tail and feathery crown of gills, it resembles a miniature Chinese dragon gliding along between cloud reflections and mud. Just as the I Ching views Man as intermediary between Heaven and Earth, the salamander symbolizes transformation from one way of being into another.

shining lake
the salamander swims
above its shadow

Clear-eyed, I seek a salamander of my own and soon count at least eight of these primordial metamorphs easing in-and-out of sunken log palaces—one for every trigram, and each larger and more thrilling than the last.

gills become lungs
salamander fire
fills our bellies