To Matsue1 min read

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By Jim Nawrocki

Published in 16.2


Fuji hides,                                                                               silent now like an empty cricket cage.
veiled by torn-edge clouds,                                            That night, I walk over dark stone
a rain gray sky draped                                                       under drizzle as boats drop lanterns
over emergences of green                                                into the canals for the festival,
as I float, dozing,                                                                  a small galaxy coming to life,
on the train to Matsue.                                                      The Romance of the Milky Way.

It rains                                                                                      It rains
as I look from my ryokan window                                when I climb to grand Matsue castle
to a clump of trees on the Ohashigawa,                      above the trees, and later, down the hill,
the landing where Lafcadio Hearn                                through a torii on my last day,
first stepped out, the bridge he crossed                     passing row after row of Inari,
ages ago, to get here.                                                          each one’s face, smoothed

I study                                                                                      by a century or more
remnants through museum glass:                                of the earth’s eternal water,
Hearn’s suitcase, hat, a comb, pipes,
palimpsest pages spread open                                       by time
with the ink he wove through notebooks                  at its steady work of erasure.
in this new language of signs.

I stand
stupidly, in front of his desk,
a replica, absent any mark of him,
and turn to take in what was once his view,
walls of doors open to his garden,
open also to loneliness, this room


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