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Mount Fuji
Waterlilies 27.  View fromYoshida on Tokaido Highway

Ads and signs sell the view with text like flies

Swarming above and around, beckoning us into

The broad bench open for sitting or sprawling.

This inn of exposed beams sits lightly

At water's edge, or on top of a peak.

Is that a fog bank out there?

Like the panels of European stages,

One wood slat pulls aside to reveal another,

Side rooms open up, bare walls pull back,

All drawing us back to the rail,

And through that to the ambiguous mist.

The cold air comes in, as the room breathes,

And the travelers slump into their padded kimonos,

Wedged in tight beside bundle and box.

The women who appreciate the view

Cozy their teacups in a quilted tray.

In the sunken arena, the one standee

Wipes her migraine or perceives a crow, far off;

Only one other watches, the woman who has

Folded herself five ways into a graceful squat,

And stares along one of the railroad tracks

Made by this coercive perspective, off

The bias, not quite true, perhaps

Only feeling the silky polish of the trailing,

Flat enough to lean on, solid enough

To keep the casual from falling out.

Frank Lloyd Wright, at 5'8" a shrimp, liked

The low wood-on-wood rooms, and these

Horizontal grids. But he stole the rhythm, too--

The frozen notes above, the notched beamlets

Hanging from the real support, establishing

The beat, while broad flat lines

Expand our eyeballs left and right--

Making the tiny teahouse seem

Luxurious and heavy like the Imperial Hotel.

Wright--the maker--invited

Water in, and poured people out into the land.

Here, in this coarse waystation, Hokusai

Turns the waiting room into a kabuki scene,

Shifting drama off the actors onto the sets,

And spotlighting wood, and mats, and cloth.

Looking back, regarding the window, and

These ants inside, the winter mountain

Must sense more snow coming. No words,

Or wood, no composition here; the sheer absence

Sucks in our attention, its emptiness

A small distant sign with no content,

Undramatic, interpreted and ignored,

Like the Tao, not showing off or getting on,

Just being Mount Fuji.

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Copyright 1998-1999 Jonathan Price, The Communication Circle
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