August 20, 1961

Today, strolling alone,
outside the convalescent hospital, I
paused and tucked in my chin: Why,
this fresh scar dividing my chest
is like the opening stroke
of calligraphy
on an empty scroll!

In these flat Shinoda fields, under the flat
sky, day is a glazed tile of intricate
detail.   Neither I, nor the lotus,
nor the tiny sparrows pacing delicately
on the tatami mats, will ever take leave of it . . .

Out of breath I entered the bubbling pool
and knitted my brow: Since when we gaze at the stars
we gaze into a vanished past, is not night, Nomura,
the rough underside of the tile?

I waited for her answer, feeling
my pulse, drying outstretched
on a bed of moss . . .

As I returned along the slate path,
cranes, faintly shimmering in dusk,
fished in the fields or rice.

Crackling underfoot were the shells
of cicadas who had gone,
screaming like samurai
more deeply into the pattern.

The East Village Poetry Web
Araki Yasusada