This piece I wrote a few years ago, towards the end of a class on classical Japanese literature. Professor Larry Kominz of Portland State University stitched together various swatches from the vast collection of poetry coming from Japan, emphasizing seasons especially, and the general reverence of nature for which Japanese culture is known. Thanks, Professor Kominz.
An Idyll for Rose City
The waterfront is clear today. I ponder to myself,
perhaps it's just too cold to justify going out.
I exhale into the crisp evening air, and stare beyond the bridges,
and catch sight of the mountains; I breathe in through my mouth.
At sunset I'm impelled outward, my eyes upward, to watch the night,
when the ribbon's vivid colors swiftly sweep across the sky
when the mokuhanga mountains tower calmly, standing by,
watching, stilled and sober, just like me, beholding change before my eyes.
Like Fuji-san, the king, like God, overlooking his small swath of Earth
The twins near whom our river runs can put my troubled heart at ease.
We're distracted from the smell of pine trees; we're wont to ignore a gentle breeze,
or those momo-iro sunsets Mounts Hood and Helens see;
but they simply sit and wait—for us to finally stop,
to watch them just be.
Such petty nesses as ours can fade to nothing in their shadow,
if we let them, if we bade goodbye to those little, silly things.
For all our busy-ness, we sometimes need to rest fallow,
let heavy thoughts germinate, while we lightly dance and sing.
A maple's stalwart bough is near bursting with brown chickadees; I spot a dove
and see their song flitting in that gentle breeze. I feel their love
dissolving in the hues of pinks, fading to the blues as the sun above,
the sun's mood also sinks to blues. I'm truly moved, and so I do,
further down the waterfront, and this stroll of thought too.
This place of grass with cherry trees, down near the bridge with the white stag sign,
leaves burning like the street they line, momiji of the truest kind,
unwind my coiled heart like a smidge of rose wine. In the wind my eyes
water, tears whirling with the twirling leaves, and disappear like I'd never thought of that:
subdued moments like these dwindle in the pace of life. I slide my hands
into my pockets, hands wound into fists, like the heat I hold through this
was the last flaming leaf on the branches of my soul.
I stand still for I don't know how long, and the kindling of sleepy birdsong lights
a fire in my heart. Again I start to tear, though the wind died
long ago, and as hard as I try to hold, I let the feeling go,
go into the sky like the nocturne dove's gentle cry, fade to blues as the stars
and moon poke through and slowly rise, the wabi of our little city, the sabi bits
of preserved Earth, and warmed by the sunset, and all my thoughts, I gaze
and stare at those mountains, I
feel the graze of evening breeze,
let the height of our pines lower you to your knees,
taste the hues of birdsong, melding with pink and blue,
let the burning autumn leaves touch you, let them
wipe your tears away, your fears to fade,
your soul to light,
uncoil like the birds at roost,
let it pluck the strings of your core,
behold these natural, wondrous things,
be moved all the more at its simplicity,
and watch the mountains just be,
as day crescendos its move to night.