Snug in the palm of my hand,
fingers curled and caressing
its smoothness, exploring
miniature scales
on back and fanned tail,
tiny teeth in roar of mouth,
the dust-filled creases of its head,
flaming copper burnished
with the faint scent of boxwood,
my little finger fits the curve of its body,
feels the kanji carved on its base.

This sculptured toggle once swung from an obi,
kept the folds of a kimono in place.
My dragon is bound to imagination and heart
as I smooth the wood,
create a lustre,
touch the carver’s spirit.

Kim M. Russell, 25th September 2018

Image result for boxwood dragon netsuke

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: Mindfulness and poetry, also linked to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Tuesday Platform

Sarah is back this week with a mindfulness technique to open up our poetic brains.

Firstly, she would like us to find a small object. It doesn’t have to have any particular significance – a pebble, an eraser, a coin – anything will do, so long as it fits in the palm of the hand.

Then she wants us to spend a couple of minutes  exploring the object: looking at it, touching it, sniffing it, listening to it, tasting it, feeling its weight and temperature, until we feel we know it like an old friend.

Next, she asks us to free-write for a couple of minutes about the object and, if new thoughts float in, take note of them and write them down, too. It’s fine if we find ourselves meandering.

Finally, we should review what we’ve written; the free-writing is the basis of our poems. We should explore ideas and phrases, use our poetic senses and write with them.

51 thoughts on “Netsuke

    1. have you read The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal? It’s about how he traces his families history in Vienna through a collection of netsuke. A wonderful book!


  1. Oh this is wonderfully vivid ☺️ I love the description s “tiny teeth in roar of mouth” and also “with the faint scent of boxwood”… I can picture it as clearly as though it was right before me! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You had me at /the dust-filled creases on its head/. You have masterfully rocked the prompt. It me a while to get a “feel” for it. I hadn’t heard of a netsuke before.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, I love this — the tactile nature of it is mesmerizing; your wording of every touch of every nook and corner of the netsuke is so well done. And that closing is a gem.
    This is definitely one of my recent favorites by you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The dragon reminds me of stuff we collected when we were kids in Japan. I had all kinds of wooden treasures like that one. My sister had a geisha doll in a glass cabinet. You just never know where it came from and who had it before you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. touch the carver’s spirit, that was a precious feeling Kim ,to be able to experience the creative process that went into creating something of significance. I read about Kabuki theater masks and something similar to this where the craftsman actually put a lot of his soul into sculpting and designing the mask for a certain character. it must have been a very zen moment to feel that connection

    Liked by 1 person

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