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Mount Fuji
Waterlilies 32.  View from Noborito

Clams for dinner! Fish in baskets--

How rich the beach is, under the blessed gates,

So happily disregarded by the children

Running in the ankle-deep water, happy

To tumble into this loose sand, and laugh.


Reeds rush out,

Dirt ridges pile up like waves,

Bushes like trees

Fit into the covers.

A thatched roof pokes

Into the foreground

Destroying any closeness to the scene.

But our eyes move out to sea,

Following these busy diggers out

To the heavy laden boats hauling

In the big nets, or perhaps

Carrying passengers and clam baskets,

Up to Edo, for tomorrow's market.


Torii greet us at the Shinto shrines,

These lead sailors in

To the temple just below us,

Or draw the ambitious,

Restless, or ruined peasant

Out into deep water,

Steering toward

The domed glow of Tokyo.


One digger only

Masters imaginings,

Turns attention

To the nearby miracle.

No sleep here--

Alert to bubble trails,

Feeling, envisioning

What toes touch,

These clammers harvest

Without wiping out the seed.


Now industrial pools

Flush and rock artificially inseminated shellfish,

Sending plankton,

Fetching sand spit--

No chase here--

The mussels have no barnacles,

And the oysters no grit.


Taste was rich with unpredictability,

The uneven pungency of wild growth--

Triangulated by season, luck, and tide.

Hokusai loved the work,

The people who pitched in,

And their beloved white marker,

The gate of fire, resting under snow.

Like these villagers, Hokusai gauges distance,

Height, and depth by Mount Fuji.

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Copyright 1998-1999 Jonathan Price, The Communication Circle
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