Master Chang opened the door to his cottage--
it was Student.
Student said “Hello Master Chang!”
To which Master Chang nodded once.

Master Chang stood at a table
holding a jade-handled knife of medium size.
“Damascus,” said Master Chang,
tilting the blade in the light.
“Damascus,” said Student.

Master Chang had a square tray and a lime.
He drew the knife’s edge quickly back,
toward himself, with subtle rigor,
across the top of the lime.
The knife cleanly halved the lime.
“See how absolutely divisive the knife is.”
“Yes, Master,” said Student.

The two walked in the garden.
Master Chang stopped and bent down.
A toad was sunbathing on a small rock.
Master Chang poked the toad in the rear with his cane.
The toad hopped forward, twice.
“See how this toad moves along.”
“Yes, Master,” said Student.

A train full of soldiers could be heard
creaking slowly into Student’s mental trainyard.
At least this is what the Master sensed.

The soldiers sweated in their train cars,
playing cards and waiting in their dark uniforms.
Some oiled their weapons.
A few wrote letters home. One
sat calmly, arm-wrestling the others,
one after another,
a neat stack of bills
in his helmet on the seat beside him.
The Master stopped and looked at Student.

“What? Master Chang,” said Student.
“I am wondering about you,” said the Master.
Student said nothing. Then:

“We have touched upon your sublime knife
and seen how absolutely divisive it is;
we have come across the lazy toad
and seen how he moves along; now if I may--”

Master Chang interrupted Student:
“Have I told you what type of baby I was?”
“No, Master,” replied Student.
“I rode quietly in Mother’s backpack
looking out,” said the Master.
“I was a deadpan baby.
An unflappable baby.
A pokerfaced baby.”

Student nodded his head.