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Mount Fuji
Waterlilies 24.  View from Hodogaya on Tokaido Highway

Like a decorated curtain, the trees

Arise between us and the smutzig lake,

Isolating the performers here in front of us,

Each trunk a module in the rhythm

Of the open road to the far north--


How personal each traveler is, uniquely

Bending to look in his or her own way:

Introspective, worshipful, itchy, awed, or

Indifferent; even the horse has his own idea.

Inside the palanquin, the baby sleeps.


Terraces hold back the tumbling dirt,

Resisting the temptation to become pure cliff--

Hokusai relished these neat divisions,

Daring to make the trail so pure that

No rock sticks in the shoe, smoothing

The lake or sea like wood veneer,

Painting sky in three broad bands--

These restraining walls separate and emphasize,

Making multiple stage sets, and yet,

By stretching from east to west,

These lines form the staff, the trees

The baseline, and these quivering pedestrians

Raise the melody against.


Flip flop, and the background swells,

Like a chorus overwhelming the soloists,

Turning the troubadours to shrubbery,

An irritating distraction. We sweep

Along the coastal forest, so rich in leaves,

Like the maples along the river in Kyoto.

Here, we are too far to hear the stones

Grumble under current, and click.

Struggling to resist, our eyes move across,

Then up, investigating the reversal--

Dark blue below white, poking up into

The light blue heaven, surmounted

With its midday sun light, the end

Of this mirror, the slope, reflecting

A surprise inside, a central secret.


Absorbing silence, the far hills

Sit greenly dreaming

Of being a butterfly, no, a human,

Anything that can flutter up to become,

In that clean cold air, the crescendo,

The finale, the grace note of life--Mount Fuji.

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Copyright 1998-1999 Jonathan Price, The Communication Circle
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