|Waterlilies||37. View from Tatekawa in Honjo|
Piled, stacked, tossed, sawed, leaned, and loaded,
This wood's becoming modular, and the long strips
Stand vertically waiting for the air to cure, destined
For a daimyo's reception hall, or a temple repair.
When Toshi's father visited the twenty-six temples
Their ancestors had built, every priest wrote
Asking for money to repair the roof, the statue,
The floor or steps. This lumberyard's an act
Of worship, too, reaching skyward, hugging
All the way to Tokyo, from this compound, where
Thatch makes an instant roof over piles so tall
An American would topple. The precision of these saws
Echoes Hokusai's own: he must have loved cutting those
Straight lines into the wooden tablet, imitating
The tight grain, creating so many flat surfaces
With so many intervening slants and slopes
We see depth where there is no tone, accept
The outline for gradations, and enjoy its pure
Reproducibility. Nothing seems fuzzy here.
Even the horizon's blue--is that the sea?--lives distinctly.
He's also saying how hard the hewers and sawyers
Must have worked, just as he did, to make a series of cuts,
Build and unbuild these towers like a distillate
Not clothes, Hokusai's answer to Anne Hollander:
He makes us struggle to unveil, undress, get through,
Like a male brushing aside the petticoats, to glimpse
The delicately withdrawn, modestly quiet Mount Fuji.
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Copyright 1998-1999 Jonathan Price, The Communication Circle
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