Please find me again in that place of black sand,
where a temple receives the rows of surf.
When you helped me up those sloughing dunes,
your silhouette hid the stars like a cloud
but at the crest I saw the Silvery River’s flood;
a white mist of birds at rest on the water
since you walked kalavinka wings to reach me.
Wooden clogs slide upon moss, clack upon slate;
a monk, a foreigner, treads a well-worn track.
Ahead a bell hangs in a dim grove,
echoing with the weight of memory.
The disciple tilts one palm to the last sun,
recalls his late master’s hardship blunted hands.
Light caresses his own pale fingers,
traces branching streams flowing to the heart.
Creases, lines and scars fade in the rising dark
until distinctions merge and the bell is struck.
Out rings the pattern of ancient blows;
forgotten hands awakened by new.
Returning through bamboo stands, close crowding pine,
memories of the night his teacher died:
Breaking his bow to grasp one limp hand,
Looking for recognition in his eyes.
i.m. Kenji Miyazawa
There is no indoors in your poems:
only roofs and chimneys,
occasionally a face at a window.
“No one has rooms for an outsider,” you say
without the slightest trace of regret.
Giving yourself up to time and distance
words slip from you like knives
off a lacquered tray.
You have the tenderness of a surgeon
feeding ice-chips into a patient’s mouth.