Li combs the elm tree’s roots apart
as Ma Ma once teased tangles from her hair.
She prunes them short to fit the shallow pot
and soothes the severed tips with soil
like arms around a weeping child.
Annealed copper shapes the trunk,
as if it’s growing from a windswept cliff
where clouded panthers climb with ease.
Li twists the boughs with care.
The cracks and tears will heal with time
and all will wonder at its grace and style.
Tonight she’ll lift the Penjing from its plinth
and carry it with tiny steps to her betrothed.
She’ll wear her golden lotus shoes -
two crescent moons of satin silk,
embroidered figures dancing down the sides
Jan Harris, UK