by dairo tendo
still dwelling on the death of a poet
I made my way to the peninsula
to pay homage in the woods
but amidst the throngs, nothing felt right
and so I returned to the island
with only a thin volume in my hands
A few small sails, barely moving,
dot Fidalgo Bay. As the sun burns away
the last pale clouds, a confluence
of robins descends to explore
my neighbor’s garden—
brown grass, muddy beds and the last
fading roses of the year.
It is September, the end of summer.
My backyard maples turning orange
and red and gold. From my high window,
the great mountain looks
painted on the horizon line,
small mountains at its feet, then
headlands and the Salish Sea below.
I can read no more today
about the agonies of this world,
its desperate refugees, the men
of arms and gold whose death tolls
are as numberless as the stars.
I’ve grown weary, impatient,
as I’ve grown old.
After this morning’s rain, I dream
only of a woman’s gentle laughter,
her fingers on my arm as we sip wine
in the evening, telling tales,
lighting the heart’s small fires
that will get us through the rains
of autumn and dark winter.
Alone at my window, I watch
a silent world and find it
welcome, my own silence welcome.
Longing has its own quiet place
in the human heart, but love
is sometimes rapturous, noisy,
almost uncivilized, and knows
no boundaries, no borders.
And what am I but its solitary
pilgrim—lost, found, lost again—
on the long journey whose only end
is silence before the burning
of my body, one last moment
of flame, a whiff of smoke
and gone with the rain.
— Sam Hamill, in After Morning Rain
Kyo mo kyo mo
Somewhere between Eugene and Portland,
wipers slapping time to an ancient folksong
I got on Sado Island in the Sea of Japan,
I thought again of my old friend
with whom I walked in the Rose Garden
on a sunny August afternoon
twenty years ago, walked and talked
the life of poetry as if it could be
almost a religious vow.
Rain pouring down
and hundreds of miles to go,
I pulled off the highway
and drove through town until I found
my way again and stopped in the garden
to sip hot coffee and smoke a cigarette.
He who was my brother is a stranger now.
Calls are unanswered. Letters are returned.
How does a man get up one day and simply
walk out of one life and into another
without trace or track? How does the old bear
curl up inside itself to wade the wide
fields of heaven when rain turns to snow
and bitter glacial winds begin to blow?
It was hot that August afternoon.
Late into the night, there was poetry and wine.
We spoke of others we had loved and lost,
and I thought of how I passed
like a shadow through their lives–
former friends, former wives–I wish them well,
although I do not know them now.
I make my bows alone.
It’s easier loving the dead who blossom
in the mind like roses in the wind.
After months of rain, the roses will bloom again,
the old bear com creaking down its mountain.
And the old ache that is my memory now
picks up the tempo the wiper is laying down
as I pull back onto the highway out of town,
the women of Sado turning, stepping lightly
in another world, raising their arms
and voices once again to sing
that sweet old song that carries
a weary pilgrim home.
— Sam Hamill, in Habitation: Collected Poems
in memorium of Sam Hamill who passed through this spring. I make my bows alone.
Late June 2018 renowned Shakuhachi player Kaoru Kakizakai visited for a week of lessons, a workshop and a house concert. The house concert was a real treat, very intimate, with a small number of shakuhachi aficionado’s. You were really able to watch a master at work.