Patricia Fargnoli: “Memory”


         —after a photograph by Yako Ma

I remember
the absolute stillness of the cherry blossoms
over the small emerald river in the countryside,
the quiet countryside somewhere in Japan.
And the way the emerald water also held
the milky white reflection of the sky
and the dark shadows the cherry trees cast there
where a single rowboat was pulled up parallel to the bank
as I sat a long way off in another country,
another century, looking down on the scene.

I think it must be morning there, the air moist on my arms,
the small path that runs along the river, empty
but waiting for someone, a monk perhaps,
to arrive in his orange robe–
a monk deep in a meditation walk
and he doesn’t know I am watching him
from my opposite and far edge of the world.

Yet here I am with all my senses open,
taking in his walk, the river, the rowboat,
and the cherry trees in blossom
such as I have never seen in my own life.
And wishing to go in that oarless rowboat
somewhere deeper into this quiet
that I can almost remember.
How gently flowing my mind feels now
like the small river
or an unfolding cherry blossom.

Patricia Fargnoli has published four award-winning books of poems, and a fifth book, Hallowed: New & Selected Poems, is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in fall, 2017.

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