A young woman made her way home

In her black work pants and straw sandal vamps

Slim, with shoulders drooping

Along an embankment of blossoming chestnut flowers

She knew what there was to know

Of the in and outs and the seasons of work

Of fertilizers and plant breeding

In her discussions with those concerned

Of the causes of the year's rice blight

She showed translucent tact

Worthy of making into a talkie

While perched on the levee between tar-black seedling beds

Ostentatiously flinging aside bundle after bundle

Of chestnut tree and other branches

Who could have imagined that the big bloated monk

Who sent out his postcard to me today

Proceeding to get roaring drunk in his padded kimono

Could have given life to such a young woman

I asked the way to the house of this celebrated Buddhist monk

At the root of the mountain and a farmer who knew him said

"He's renown for his gambling and his unrefined home brew"

The bad relations among villagers came as a surprise to me

He was a gambler all right

His complexion and the extra-long wrinkles on his cheeks

Told you that he spent his nights in his little storehouse

Possessed by an uncommon excitement

The house was propped

On a grassy slope as pretty as a park

At the base of a huge pine mountain

Girded by pitch black cedars

Boasting what looked like a two-storey temple gate

And a whitewashed storehouse

Its persimmon and pear trees were radiant

But all that was stripped bone-white from the inside out

The monk wrote, "Yearly planting took place with all due care

Yet several years of sick crop resulted annually"

His penmanship was, I admit, exemplary

Yet why did he take up gambling

Could it be that he merely went astray

Due to being slightly more clever than the other villagers

Or could it be in his genes

Whichever, dark genes will remain dormant

Even inside a young woman as lovely

And grand as this, reliable

Who might have taken her farming village into a new era

They will be passed on to her descendants before awakening

At such time appearing as neither gambling nor unrefined sake

Where will those genes


Between 1950

And 2000

Dim ice clouds and a bone-white sky in the west

Behind you the pine forest

Takes on the appearance of a sea cucumber for the sun

And the marsh water shines back with the faintest light