XIII. Return to Suzhou: Master of the Nets
It was meant to conjure the life of a fisherman—
solitude simplicity and peace—
hence the name—Master of the Nets Garden.
Not the real life, of course, but what a nobleman
(who else would bankroll such quiet grace?)
imagines when he thinks life of a fisherman:
the sea in miniature, harnessed, halcyon
abundant fish (giant koi, not bass).
It’s a stand-in wilderness, a Chinese garden—
each tree a forest, each rock a mountain—
for those obliged to keep close to the house.
There are even breaking waves: our would-be fisherman
could watch, from covered walkways, a procession
of ripples launched across his fishpond’s surface
by pelting raindrops; his master gardener
dispensed perfection even in the rain.
I visit in a downpour—paradise—
while, out on open sea, a master fisherman,
expanse itself his garden, plies his nets.
Copyright © 2022 by Jacqueline Osherow. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 27, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.