One Day in Edo (for Matt)
The daimyō are within their gardens today.
April wind has loosed tree blossoms to float
on Butterfly Brook, from mansion to mansion.
The lords move slowly, contemplating poems
of old, and some conceive formal Spring verses.
Elsewhere, the Shogun’s brow beetles,
dictating his cold letter to the emperor.
But in Edo walks also the tall one.
Peasants nod and merchants hush.
Bemused samurai mutter sideways.
The tall one is too tall and people stare.
Who could tell his age or know his mind?
His eyes are dark, yet somehow colorless.
Old moonlight is stale on his hemp tunic,
and his long black hair hangs like strings.
They say the tall one was seen near Pine Temple,
loitering there one day and sewing tiny kimonos
of silk scrap for crows. He hung them on branches.
But today he walks outside the southeast wall,
in large stride and gesturing without words.
He has reached the seaside overlook and points
all by himself to the way wind is ruffling water.
A stray white cat saunters up beside him.
It lifts its nose to sniff the distant breakers.
And the tall one begins speaking of things
the cat knows, though it remains silent:
Our brothers and sisters in the city are moving
on the carousel of words that turn them in circles.
They grow dizzy with gossip and then turn to sake.
Our lords, the great ones shrink inside hourglasses.
Even monks who gather nothingness at Pine Temple
and who listen to the pure song of silver wind chimes…
even the monks are mistaken in their absence of truth.
I tell you, o cat, and I know you have also purred this –
it is there and has eyes and is as free of error as marrow
that flows through the dream bones of sleeping wanderers.
One day in Edo the tall one
left the overlook and walked
into a grove of bamboo shadows.
Overhead, crows Kabuki dancing.
I am very grateful for this poem, which I think is exquisite. The poem’s copyright (2012) belongs to Tim Buck, though he told me, “… it is a gift to you. To do with as you please: read it, post it, or print it out and stomp on it in aesthetic disgust, whatever.”
I am very proud to be able to share such a fine poem here! It is from Tim’s new book echolocation, which is available on-line.