blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



Next Morning Letter

Kaigetsudo Doshin, Beauty Writing a Letter, a hanging scroll ©Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Savoring each summer moment
lush and brief
I close my eyes to see

your white robe, falling open

as you call for your scroll
and ink stone, a brush
As your brush passes over the paper

my body shivers

How closely now you watch
at the open lattice
as your servant hurries away

the next morning letter

tethered to
a spray of clematis
whose blossoms will not open

until they reach me

In the washbasin
your face is
the bridge that spans

the floating world of dreams

Now you are yawning
Now you are reciting sutras
bowing to the wind

When the letter arrives

all the leaves of the maple
outside my window
are stirred

I read your words

just once, then once again
bringing my fingers
to my lips, my hair

tucked back behind one ear

On the dawn's trellis
the scent of clematis
Now smell your fingers
The petals of my body
gather in your empty arms

How shall I respond?
The cry of the stag
is so loud

the echo answers

from the empty mountains
as if it were a doe
I tell you only what you know

Clematis—the scent
of your teaching surrounds me
My empty arms fill
Come night, the fragrant petals
fall in a heap at my feet

(Kaigetsudo Doshin, Beauty Writing a Letter, a hanging scroll)  

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