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Mount Fuji
Waterlilies 10.  View at Enza-no-matsu Pine at Aoyama

No haiku here--we get the whole hill, each trunk

A ruler line, the leaves a single brush twirl,

The fog laid across the paper like a World War I gas attack,

A panorama divided in two, hill versus volcano.

And down here in a corner, out on the ledge,

Humans intrude, no, celebrate the view--

One traveler points out Fuji to his friend

While the others sit, next to wood chests,

Sharing a single red lacquer bowl.

I can taste the broth. Even so, this scene

Was edited, carts omitted, lice left out,

And skinny poles poking up out of the valley,

Where someone's saki factory was expanding.

The untouched enormity reminds me of Tokyo subway ads,

Where, through the hundred elbows and heads,

You see a single woman squatting in zazen,

Alone in 3,000 square feet of wood flooring,

Staring at a hill empty of crowds, just green grass.

To isolate beauty in Japan, you must block out

Buses, laundry, coffee shops, and electric lines.

Hokusai knew how. His epic camera sweeps

Above the village (just some rooves), ignoring valleys,

Enlarging this great swath of pines,

Emphasizing the country's sky, displaying his own art,

And, not so incidentally, spotlighting Mount Fuji.

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Copyright 1998-1999 Jonathan Price, The Communication Circle
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