blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



Drifting Boat

During the banquet
what poem can I say for him
as the wine cup comes
floating by on the winding
waters? I am not a stone

in the garden, nor
an oak, nor a stalwart line
of night-mooring rocks
Not a ship held at anchor
nor the treasure sought at sea

I am what it means
to wander—Ukifune
a boat long adrift
in the sound of dark water
Outside the house at Uji

where I have been put
I hear rain swept hills calling
and the cry of deer
the rush of water falling
the slow tolling of a bell

Who is it that hears?
So smoothly, so smoothly glides
my boat, that were I
to merge with the winter sea
would there be any ripple?

Snow falls on cedars
Snow melts from the bough also
Who is it that hears
the torrential ebb and flow
in the heart? In wine? In snow?

(Ukifune, Album leaf from The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu. Ink and color with gold on paper, Edo period.)  

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