Station 40, Chiriu: the Poet Ariwara no Narihira at Eight Bridges

What is sky but water, more water,
crossed by eight bridges?
Is the ancient poet in a rush to reach land?

No, he’s already one of the Six Immortals.
How long before the papery iris-petals
he admires wrinkle? They barely grow beards.

In a thousand years, pilgrims will come.
They will stand where he stood. Where, they will ask,
are the flowers that empurpled his poem?

Copyright @ 2014 by Debora Greger. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on June 30, 2014.