(after Yosa Buson)
That morning you had reassured me
before we said goodbye.
At evening my heart was in a thousand pieces
and the pieces scattered.
Thinking of you, I wandered.
The world had been so full of you
it didn’t occur to me to wonder
that the hills themselves were in mourning:
Pathfinder in shade, prairie stars white in sun –
and no one to look at them.
I heard a pheasant calling and calling
Crossing the river, I thought:
once you lived on the other side.
You left in the evening,
at morning my heart was still,
my heart that you had steadied,
in a thousand pieces.
Ghostly smoke rises a little before
the north wind that blows it away
across the deadgrass fields,
through the winter-stripped coppices.
Once you lived across the river;
You were everywhere, like smoke,
like memory, so when you are gone,
who can I be, stripped of a past?
I stripped dead leaves from branches
wove a hut to sit in
sat there alone all day
and long into the invaluable evening.