Japanese Autumn

Oct 2, 2015

Lines Composed in an Autumn Reverie, on Visiting the Japanese Garden one Friday Afternoon, October 2015.

Version 2

Chrysanthemums
Huddled palms direct their longing west with every gust, great frond-arms and arrow-leaves jostling, clenching, splaying. Bright chrysanthemums ensconce them, basking in slanted light, steady and splendid.

Rocky Path 

Caution: Rocky or Uneven Path
On one side, a stream burbles impatient, yammering over every stone. On the other, young trees hold the hillside, straining toward the pond, roots gripping hard. Little hostas help, their tendril roots finessing soil as leaf edges brown. No need for worry. The path brings you round, and home.

Shishi 

Shishi-Odoshi
Wind bends the thin fill stream. Will it reach the bamboo’s open throat? Patience: this takes time. Hurried visitors walk on; they can’t wait. Three beech leaves drift on the still surface below. Fill, fill, fill, slowly until the sudden drop—stiff old man making a hasty bow. Surface upset, then that jarring hollow clunk. Return to silence.

Bridge 

On the Bridge
Behind, eager water rushes roaring over stair-stepped rocks. Ahead, the flow spreads and quiets, quick and shallow. Upright stones keep vigil, water moving through spaces between. Minor dignitaries, they keep their topsides dry.

Afternoon-300x300 

Late Afternoon
Trembling disk of sun on silk-green lake. Cluster of diamond-light glitters on the far shore. Wind sweeps by, light scatters, multiplies. Diamonds everywhere, in every fold of silk.

 Bonsai

Bonsai
Imagine yourself smaller, smaller. Follow your thoughts as they attenuate precisely into my tiny, perfect world

Spirea 

Spirea Leaves
They dove, held their breath, held and held. Water spread thick and fast over them. No more than a breath, they determine, defy. How do they hold on? Wet against water, strength counters strength.

Version 2 

Untitled
Concave, convex; upside, downside; sky, land, sky, land. Orientation comes with standing still, awaiting perspective. Nothing is flawless. The upper corner is carved out, a tell-tale north.

Zen Garden 

Zen Garden
Stone ocean’s motion stilled. Islands like absolute thoughts in ordered minds. Geometry of silence.

Sleeping Buddha
Cheek to earth, soft dichondra bed. He will awaken when ages end. Geese cry, flying south through his young dreams.

Lotus 

Lotus
Fallen oak leaves. Seasons turn. Perfect fuschia blooms amid decay.

Stonehenge 

Stonehenge
Granite, emerging eggs. Perhaps in a thousand years, a hatching. Each with its fretting companion, a quivering shrub. Bearing leaves, then berries, then baring as seasons change. In winter, spare sentinels beside the polished eggs, pondering their parabolic edges of light.

Heron Rock 

Heron Rock
Yesterday, she watched here, stiletto beak and feather cap. Today, she has found her sky.

Cherry Trees 

Cherry Tree Promenade
Leaves still bright on pliant boughs, the lately saplings congregate, murmuring their prowess. They forget they have never bloomed here, they forget their criss-cross props. Not mindful yet of winter winds that come, must come, before delicate profusions of spring.

 

I have published books on motherhood, Christian spirituality, and language in worship. I write regularly about all sorts of topics for The Twelve, and I teach literature and writing at Calvin College, where I have served on the faculty since 1996.

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