In fields of bush clover and hay-scent grass the autumn moon takes refuge The cricket's song is gold Zeshin's loneliness taught him this Who is coming? What will come to pass, and pass? Neither bruise nor sweetness nor cool air not-knowing knows the way And the moon? Who among us does not wander, and flare and bow to the ground? Who does not savor, and stand open if only in secret taking heart in the ripening of the moon? (Shibata Zeshin, Autumn Grasses, two-panel screen)
It Doesn't Take Much
On my front door stone, a dead frog.
It’s stretched out long,
its slender legs a mottled green,
its belly cream white,
a blossom of blood on the stone.
How did it get here? Why did it die?
It doesn’t take much to make me see
how little I know
about the simplest things.
I’ll tell you stories, of course—
that it was possibly a fisher cat,
or more likely
was dropped, accidentally by an owl
or a startled hawk,
or a heron.
Or is the dead frog an ambassador
sent from the wetland world?
I lift it gingerly, the frog still
limber, no rigor mortis,
and I put it aside, in a paper bag,
to take out later for burial—
I have a dog with a keen nose.
But when I come for it, the paper bag
is rustling, is jumping—
And so I carry the frog
far down to the pond’s edge
and settle it into the shade of the cattails.
When death arrives on your door stone,
you think about it.
When death turns out to be life, injured life,
And turn back to your own.