Poetic Spouses – Kiku

Another entry for dVerse Poet’s Pub where Kim is inspiring us to write of a poetic spouse, preferably of someone dead.  I could not resist doing a tanka for Kiku, the first wife of Kobayashi Issa and mother of his first two children who both died tragically young.  Their deaths inspired Issa to pen:  Tsuyu no yo wa tsuyu no yo nagari sari nagara:
this dewdrop world –
is a dewdrop world
and yet, and yet…

I loved you in the
warmth of our love – I will love
you in the coldness –
our children dissolved like dew
on the edge of summer grass



dVerse Poetics Tuesday: Summit in Sight

Lynn is visiting at dVerse today and is the guest prompter. She has given as a prompt, mountains – whether the mountains in nature or a personal climbing of some kind of emotional mountain. I hope you will visit us and read some of what I know will be incredible poems. I am doing a longer, travelogue form of Haibun for this. The title of the post is “Summit in Sight”. http://dversepoets.com/2016/03/29/poetics-summit-in-sight/


free public domain image - New River Gorge

free public domain image – New River Gorge

o snail
climb Mount Fuji
but slowly – slowly
” Issa

Crayola Mountains
At the tail end of winter, I had to take a journey across the Cumberland Mountains to be with my mom who was not doing well. I began the long drive with trepidation and grief. The greys, sepias, and black-green of the bare foliage and pine trees of the mountains told the tale of winter. Several mountains were locked in with fog – warning lights blinking, cars moving at just below 10 MPH for safety. Drizzles intermittently were an inconvenient annoyance; not enough wet for full blown wiper usage but too much not to sometimes use the wipers to clear my view. Stops and a brief lunch at a rest stop caused shivers and fast walking to the rest building and back to the car. Several times I grew drowsy and had to use those wintry winds to awaken me and push the tiredness from my body and soul. The looming mountains through which the highway was carved overwhelmed me and I felt so very small inching my way across them, like Issa’s snail.

The journey home was with a lighter heart because of the time spent with my mother and being hugged and held by her, remembered by her, being told how loved I was. As I climbed higher into the mountains I noticed the colors. Why, spring has come! On the mountainsides, scattered among the dull winter colors I noticed bits of tender green and the white of blooming white pear trees. In a few spots, the orchid colored blooms of the redbud tree jumped out and shouted Spring! At the bottom of the mountains, in low lying damp areas, bright yellow green willows were beginning to put forth leaves. Amazingly, on the steep, sharply inclined sides, sheep and lambs, cattle and calves precariously grazed on young grass. I wondered how they grazed without rolling down the mountainsides. Between the mountains in one pasture, I smiled to see sheep, cattle, horses all grazing with democratic amiability. I was also able to glimpse in passing, surviving old farm plantings or animal-sown clumps of daffodils sprouting bright sunny yellow between the dark green leaves.

Crossing several times over the broad New River, I could see the sides of the mountains – rounded boulders of peach, gold, white rock molded by time and the river. I remembered the New River hasn’t been new since its formation in the Paleozoic era as part of the Pottsville group. Like the rocks through which the highway had been cut – by dynamite and man – the river color was layerings of black, deep grey, slate…striations from when the earth moved and the veins of rock pushed upward. Blue skies – periwinkle, cornflower, baby blue – stretched around me and I could see in every direction – the cloudless skies unmarred by buildings or clouds. In some places, winter dead kudzu stretched over the rocks – ragged and dirty colored as Miss Havisham’s bridal veil. In some of the green pastures, outcroppings of white rocks, like jagged white teeth, gleamed in the yellow sun. A few days after I returned home, I sat at my desk and dumped out my deluxe box of crayons and began lifting from the pile, the colors of my journey back home. Pondering over the colors, there was one color I could not find. Thinking of my mother, the only crayon missing was the one labelled Love.

spring comes suddenly
in the mountains – the fog lifts –
colors are now growing

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

The Perfect Cherry Blossom

To the Japanese, the cherry blossom is a symbol of the ephemeral – a bud that turns into a beautiful flower and then quickly fades and the petals drop to the ground, often the same day. They are reminded that such beauty is not lasting and the beauty only remains in the memory.  It is a philosophy that permeates their culture:  Beauty that that is one blink away from perfection, a life that is one breath away from death, love that is one kiss away from fulfillment, joy that is one heartbeat away from sorrow. 

My tagline is from Issa:  “There are no strangers beneath the cherry tree.”  We are all one together in our fleeting existence; we are one as we stand beneath the tree in full bloom and gaze upward at its glorious vision of pink; we are all relieved of the rain as we stand beneath it for shelter; we gaze at the moon through its bare branches in winter and sigh at its luminous glow in the black sky. 

In “The Last Samurai”, Katsumoto sought the perfect cherry blossom.  It was only at his dying, as he looked up at the cherry blossoms above him that he said, “Perfect. They are all perfect.”  Whether at that moment, all the blossoms above him were at that perfect stage or either, he realized, that their being, in and of themselves, were perfect, I do not know.  However, that is what I prefer to think – that the blossoms, in whatever stage they were:  bud, blooming, full blown, faded….were perfect.  They were as they should be just at that moment.

 My blog identity, Kanzen Sakura, means, “perfect cherry blossom”.  At least, I hope so.  My Latin is much better than my Japanese.  If it doesn’t mean “perfect cherry blossom”, please don’t tell me.  Let me live in my illusion that I got something right.  Because you see, I feel that whatever state I am in:  joyful, mourning, pensive, angry, cynical, full of faith, blooming,  fading: I am perfect – I am in the stage I should be at that time. 

We all strive for something and rarely realize, we are as we should be; that we are all ephemeral – we are not strangers beneath the cherry tree of life.  Sometimes when I am roaming around at night outside, or doing something in the yard with my husband, I look around.  I smell the autumn-summer-winter-spring aromas.  The bare limbs-delicate pale green leaves-the lush dark green leaves-the parti-coloured autumn quilt of the trees:  I sigh deeply and tell my husband “These are the good old days.”.  He looks at me as if I was crazy and doesn’t quite comprehend, but he does understand that I have gone to a place he can’t go and chooses to smile at me instead of trying to follow.  He respects my territory under the cherry tree.

 It doesn’t mean we should stop searching or dreaming.  But sometimes…….The perfect cherry blossom?  Hold out your hand and grasp the air in front of you.  You are holding the perfect cherry blossom.

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