Scrolls is a new 'experimental' collaboration in progress by James C. Hopkins and Yoko Danno. One of us writes the first half of a sentence and the other follows up the rest of the sentence. The latter begins the next sentence and drops it halfway, which is taken over by the former. Writing thus in turn we draw 'picture scrolls' with words. There is no rule except that a scroll should consist of five paragraphs. When we start a scroll we never know how it will develop and end. We have set out for adventures in an unknown land without a map or a compass.


♦  Scroll 4


In a drawer of my wardrobe is another world—I was looking for a jar of paste to hold this one together, but so much for that idea now. I pressed a button and a DVD popped out. That was not what I had rummaged for, but I knew it would do in a pinch. Music filled the dusty room like a shoal of tropical fish. Outside a winter storm was razing and the windows were covered in frost. Inside I relaxed into an overstuffed leather couch and listened to the music rising and falling resonated with howling of dogs in the distance.

The wind whooped and the rain banged the roof, but I felt safe until the music stopped. Then I had the distinct feeling that I was being watched by something. I knew it had followed me on my way home last night, and had been sleeping in the garden all night, because in my dream I was walking along the deck of an ocean liner bound for the South Pacific, when suddenly a flock of bright red birds circled overhead and then plunged into the sea like falling stones. It is the red color that is important, because red is the color of a lotus in my plastic bucket, the color of dawn.

The lotus I bought yesterday in an open-air market is now blooming in the corner of my living room which is painted eggshell white. From the couch I can see all that needs to be seen—what else do I want to see besides dreams? I'm wondering where the bright red birds have gone in the sea outside, but it doesn't really matter that much. When I need them they'll be back - until then, I will open my window at night and watch the moon waxing and waning. She delivers to me all the essential news, and more. Without a drop of water, she is able to turn the invisible visible.

I can see, in the moonlight, a pair of shoes in the front yard. Curiously, I am not concerned, because I see them there often but in the morning they are always gone. I am more concerned about the color of the water in my bathtub which has turned a clear and shocking Caribbean turquoise, and is filled with tiny silver fish. Stepping through worlds is becoming easier, and more real. I can even feel the warm wind caressing my cheeks and hear the crunch of sand. Where is that DVD, and why have I lost my desire for electronic music?

But I miss you already, my dear. Keep the red lotus—by the time you find this notebook in the drawer I will have gone with the bright red birds. I have waited for the world to turn round for too long, and now I understand the inexorable pull of migration. It begins at the tips of the wings, and spreads along the nape of my neck to the head. And moreover, I need to free myself from the eyes that I feel are watching me nightly from the back of the garden. If you want to find me, point your forefinger to the sky. If you feel only the rush of the wind, then you will have found me.

(Photo by James C Hopkins: Buddha's eyes, Bodanath Temple, Nepal)