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26. View from Ushibori in Hitachi Province
From the beached boat, the sound
Of a bucket scraping the gunnels, collecting
Bilge, then pouring it over the side.
Still more ripples come in on the port beam,
Never lifting the keel free, but rolling
The reeds, and slipping through the uncaulked gap
In the planks. Listen to the steady sound of water--
Like the raked stones of Ryoanji, and the moss,
Uphill from the Silver Pavilion,
We hear nothing loudly but expect the tide,
Like the big bell outside the temple,
Silent now, but enormous in expectation
With the log on ropes, ready to be swung,
Gong, into its immense gray cone.
No haste here, nothing's broken, so time
Opens up for chores--stacking tatami
Drying rushes, washing the stones for ballast.
The poop deck's been swabbed down,
The lacquerware is stowed, and the crew's snoozing.
The cranes, startled, lift up from the marsh,
Without urgency, more out of habit than fear.
Beyond the next peninsula, two houses
Rise from firmer ground. The bay
Is calm. The snow makes climbing impossible
On the peak Hokusai so often circumnavigated but never climbed,
Preferring instead to set up his drawing board
At many distances, surrounding not taking,
Contemplating without itchy fingers. In one stroke
He interrupts the spreading river
Of evening, inserting the hill of fire,
Showing a ghost, like the Ainu tribesmen
Who named it, so absent they are white,
A blank like that of the bay, and
The extinguished Mount Fuji.
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