by dairo tendo
Why am I so sad for so long?
Human life is like a morning mushroom.
How can this last for decades?
Both new and old wither and fall—
Of course I feel sad.
It’s a sorrow so hard to bear,
how will I ever endure it?
I’ll take my body back to hide in the mountains
— Han Shan, The Complete Cold Mountain Poems of the Legendary Hermit Hanshan translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi and Peter Levitt
lonely as I
come and go
through its empty
distances, and those
empty. I’m getting old
now, but this
been here almost
wonder it understands
loneliness so much
I ever will. Every
time I come
here, we both
promise never to
leave, and mountains
The eye, the mirror–
deep eye is
magic. Things seen
go all the way
and vanish there. It seems
know, but everything
heals from inside
—David Hinton, from Desert: Poems
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