blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



Summer Birds and Flowers

the coiled scroll

enacts the momentary

sweeping down the midday sky
of small birds

on a draft from the distant
blue ravines

and mountain ridges

into the windy clearing
of summer's

middle distance, so luminous
and near

it's easy to ignore

given the distraction
of hollyhocks

and the stalks of amber iris
that steeply

lean into the emptiness

that borders
the tended garden path

Any fear of what imperils
and impends

is thereby tempered—

the tidal and jagged line
of the far mountains

merely an artful
mapping of the birds'

arc of flight

And such a glimmer of gaiety
as they dip and swoop

with unguarded ease
into the inseparable


my heart stops now
as I think of it

(Shikibu Terutada, Summer Birds and Flowers, one of a pair of hanging scrolls, 16th Century)  

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