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Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

The Great Wave at Kanagawa

Above you and your flimsy fishing boat

About to plummet
on your bald, uncovered head

the swelling heave, the sea, the tsunami

You will die, you know this

but it takes this wave

to make you bow your head
your heart, your whole life

And all for nothing

Nothing arrests the dark-held wave

Nothing quells Mt. Fuji's steadfast light

as it brightens the gunwale
and the dripping oars

The wave unrolls its readiness to kill you

No choice left

No safety, no rescue, no excuse

And no refuge but going into it
Entirely listening

to the sound of the wave on Mt. Fuji

Hearing in the marrow of your bones

waterlogged and heavy

only the sound of letting our breath out slow
as the steep wave snows down

In such extended motion

you dance and dissolve in the seethe

Much as flotsam rides the steep

cascade of foam and water
Melting into one cry

as the empty boats break up

and rush

over the edge of the boundless

Margaret Gibson
Autumn Grasses
Louisiana State University Press
©2003, Margaret Gibson
Used with permission

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