Monday, April 20, 2015

Through the night-blue fields

I have loved viewing the sky over this six-acre field, which is now for sale.
It has long been planted in a mixture of alfalfa and other hays, irrigated using
an historic "water-right" for flooded irrigation. Since it is surrounded 
on all sides by housing and commerce, and a road newly extended on its north side,
I very much fear for its loss as a space to see the open sky in all weathers.

The Merchant's Song

after "Foxfire" by Hiroshige

Through the night-blue fields, with lanterns, we go,
under the leafless ayenoki,
and the ghostly foxes
shelter under dry branches and unwinking stars.
Toward the distant houses of Oji,
toward the slopes covered with pine
we make our way,
and we wish our lanterns are
flames in air, the burning aether.
We come to collect the unpaid bills,
for the new year is upon us,
and those not paid this last night of December
must wait until April.
Here, in the cropped fields of Oji,
among encampments of foxes,
their slender ears and ankles,
the stooks which stand like silent peasants,
we take our rest,
for there are those among us
who have died this year,
and must wander tonight, forever,
unseen, except as flames among the foxes,
collecting bills which will not be paid
in April, or ever.

Roo Borson

McClelland & Stewart Inc., Ontario, 1989, page 30.

The Canadian poet, Roo Borson, is one of my very favorite poets, whose work I have featured before. This is an example of an ekphrastic poem, one which is based on a work of art, in this case a Japanese woodcut by Hiroshige. In this century when images and background information are so easy to find with a computer, there is more reason than ever to try this type of poem. You could even set yourself the task of writing a series of poems on related images, or works by the same painter. 

Here is a link to EKPHRASIS, a biannual, printed poetry journal that publishes only such poems. You might find a home for your poems there.

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