Poems from Japan


Crushed by his carapace,
he slumps on a sheaf
of freshly cut bamboo,

dreaming of swamps,
the ideographs
of webbed feet.

His rounded crown
is bald as a
hyacinth bulb.

Sparse hair falls
in a fringe, is
parted by his crow's beak.

At Obon, the wild sky
is a measure
of his madness.

Soon the ghosts
of drowned children
will surround him,

telling how
the sunlight danced
on dark water,

how the mire was
made marvelous
by fireflies.

First published in Takahe.