Translations from the English

mantis1

Praying Mantis and Peony, Late May

After the peony scrolls have been read
And the leaves of the peonies are clustered

Armor, I stand for a while to hear what comes
After the words on the scrolls have washed away

After the rain on the cascading layered leaves
Stills I see one poised on one leaf then grasping

It fully stepping with little effort to its underside then
Another smaller within inches and more

On either side praying mantis and praying mantis
So rare in my childhood I saw only one and now

For the second year they are here roaming
These leaves among the scraps of longing

And the sturdy sky boats of green even
On the porch we have seen them last summer

One the size of my hand climbed
On my daughter’s head and would not come down

The cicada they say is so pure it can…

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sunday alone

The friction of the day waxes and wanes,  rubs the clouds against the sun
stretches the copperhead’s scales across the warmed stone that you came to sit on
the noon walk down the side walk takes you over a high bridge where you think briefly about cause and effect 
the bird falling,  diving from the roof only to really live
the ice cream truck driving past you,  playing a love song that gives you vertigo 

Porcelain

Not everything has fallen that you’re trying to pick up.

You are a child over the broken plate that hasn’t hit the floor just yet.

Would your fingers bleed to save the china?

To keep mother from scorning you for being clumsy?

Let it drop and shatter into a thousand pieces. 

It’s only a plate.

When birds fall from the nest

Two people stand

face to face

but neither see

 

They are looking

at the back

of their own head

 

feeling with the back

of the hand

and never the palm

 

It is not a tender world

It is not a tender place

for a heart like mine

 

 

I saw a baby Starling

the broken winged thing

and not a word to sing

 

I saw a baby human

the unbreathing thing

not a word

 

I saw myself

in somebody’s eye

but the stranger walked by

 

It is not a tender world

It is not a tender place

for a heart

While learning kanji

Are you waiting for me to say

that all of my stones are made of

silk sewn Kanji?

 

The 20,000 symbols that you want to read in me are in the dictionary of a long history of places I cannot always recall by shape or brush stroke.

 

you have that complex design for patience and pain and love in your own sewn silk letter form and i read you with a persistence.

 

We are in the middle of an ancient language.  A thread pulling our mouths open and close together in a center

 

sliding through all of our points of contact and weaving through us a pattern that we can only discern

 

by laying still and listening to the other breathe.

 

In the lamp light I painted your jaw line with my finger tip and wrote your name with a practiced brush on the pulse of my wrist

 

and I wonder if you felt that stone roll away from me and return as a new word like hope.

The homeless on a warm spring day

 

 

The gypsies keep coming back to me.  They need me to hold their hearts.  They say it is because they are always picking up what others drop.  Invisible somethings

that I cannot always see.

 

It is incomprehensible the way they smile with their eyes.  And the way they carry a small bent cart stacked high with more invisible things.  I wonder why the thin dogs drag along beside their dusty skirts instead of hunting rabbits.  They tell me they are loyal dogs.

 

The gypsies are at home in their homelessness.  Their hands are filled when they walk with music.  But I sit behind my car’s window quiet as my own emptiness trying not to join them.

 

After they walk away jingling like birds and rain,  I’m not  sure they were ever really there.