MY SON, WHO WORKS IN JAPAN,
TELLS ME HES BOUGHT
AN OLD SAILBOAT
Fear is the call
of a bay beyond Okazaki
where my son stows his boat,
new salt in his sails.
I sit on my heels, peeling
pods of the money plant.
luff over the lawn,
into the willow, its corkscrew limbs.
I chip brown husks, flick away the seeds.
My mind is heavy with child.
I will mail
a thick guide in English, explicit,
for how can he dare
to sail in Japanese?
SAILING TO SAKUSHIMA
The sun is a basket of fire
over the side of the boat,
the only dark a cormorant
dipping for fish. One leak, after all,
and it has succumbed to repair.
The boat is tidy and proud.
Our sails are filled
with easy breaths of the wind.
We tack the harbor waters,
swell into the bay.
Someones sunstruck daughter
lolls on the deck like a plum.
Here, in Mikawa Bay,
the water is blue in the light.
Gone the shoreline shadow
murked by mist and rain.
Maps are spread on deck
and we sail to Sakushima
to anchor and swim. Stone
lanterns are weighting
the shore, but we are as light
as the froth on the sea
or a glass of Asahi
raised to a boat.
Under the half-open hatch, cold
rain in weeping season is pulping my Basho.
The boys, below, are patching the hull
with glass cloth and resin. Tonight the festival
fireworks end and skys wet skin will hold
the dark unbroken. Mariko-chan is waiting
for us with her hair up. Perhaps even now
she is filling it with combs. The sleeves
of her cotton yukata tack and sail
across her wall. While she waits I hear
the wind like a syamisen. It is
the night of O-bon, when the dead return.
We are the unblessed children.
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