Sunday, December 04, 2016

Both Worlds

Small things are often worth doing. 
I am starting another series of postcard-sized watercolors 
like this one I did many years ago.
Three by five inches!

Burning the Leaves
                                                    after the Japanese & R.H. Blythe
Fifty years
watching the leaves
How many days
did I just let
go by
Burning the leaves
the falling leaves
Among the cliffs
a lark's song
breaks against rock
The moon rises
over the grave
of my child
I gaze and gaze
into an empty
bird's nest
What is it
on the riverbank
a crow is eating?
How many leaves
will fall
over my grave?
Moonlight on granite
that's all
it is.
So busy 
with busyness
I didn't see what I saw
Among the cherry blossoms
I'm among the cherry blossoms!
All day drinking wine
writing not one
good line
So hot
even the melons
squat in the shade
The cockroaches
running off
think I'm after them!
Eyes swaying on stalks
the snail looks up
into my face
Moon on the river
a fisherman 
casts his net
Both worlds
are singing of the lark
and the silence after

Joseph Stroud

Of This World; new and selected poems,
Copper Canyon Press, 2008, pages 205-208.

(In typing this, I replaced Stroud's delicate little ampersand 
with a period, since this keyboard's ampersand 
is so large and clunky.)

It is always a pleasure to find a poem produced under the influence of the Japanese forms which have been so important to me. Here in Eagle, Idaho, we have just been putting leaves out in those large paper bags for recycling. But I have strong childhood memories of piles of leaves burning on First Street in Scotia, NY, in the 1940s; men standing around with hoses at the ready. My father often made compost, too, but it seemed then as if there were plenty of leaves for everything.
A task: try doing this. 
Just begin by beginning 
and see where your observation 
and memory take you.  

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