Poem — Bill Manhire

Some screens

 

Japanese Pavillion
Los Angeles County Museum

Palace scene in downtown LA
Palace scene in a snowy landscape,
spring cherry, autumn maple.

We stand for a while and watch the snow:
the bridge at Uji crossing from spring to winter
each day since the seventh century.

The calligrapher walks in the country
in the golden age of Japanese screen painting.
Nowhere to sit, just the slow, cool spiral,

carp on a hanging scroll,
plum trees and pine, the privileged light
turning gold in the distance

while guards guard the water.
Look, there’s a phoenix. And at last
someone’s sweeping away the leaves,

the one happy man at the shrine …
Such heat! Such snow! Such terrible
traffic! And there’s the sad poet

alone in the palace,
there on the fan, a small breeze
that once touched the lady.

 Bill Manhire

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