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27. View from Yoshida on Tokaido Highway
Ads and signs sell the view with text like flies
Swarming above and around, beckoning us into
The broad bench open for sitting or sprawling.
This inn of exposed beams sits lightly
At water's edge, or on top of a peak.
Is that a fog bank out there?
Like the panels of European stages,
One wood slat pulls aside to reveal another,
Side rooms open up, bare walls pull back,
All drawing us back to the rail,
And through that to the ambiguous mist.
The cold air comes in, as the room breathes,
And the travelers slump into their padded kimonos,
Wedged in tight beside bundle and box.
The women who appreciate the view
Cozy their teacups in a quilted tray.
In the sunken arena, the one standee
Wipes her migraine or perceives a crow, far off;
Only one other watches, the woman who has
Folded herself five ways into a graceful squat,
And stares along one of the railroad tracks
Made by this coercive perspective, off
The bias, not quite true, perhaps
Only feeling the silky polish of the trailing,
Flat enough to lean on, solid enough
To keep the casual from falling out.
Frank Lloyd Wright, at 5'8" a shrimp, liked
Horizontal grids. But he stole the rhythm, too--
The frozen notes above, the notched beamlets
Hanging from the real support, establishing
The beat, while broad flat lines
Expand our eyeballs left and right--
Making the tiny teahouse seem
Luxurious and heavy like the Imperial Hotel.
Water in, and poured people out into the land.
Here, in this coarse waystation, Hokusai
Turns the waiting room into a kabuki scene,
Shifting drama off the actors onto the sets,
And spotlighting wood, and mats, and cloth.
Looking back, regarding the window, and
These ants inside, the winter mountain
Must sense more snow coming. No words,
Or wood, no composition here; the sheer absence
Sucks in our attention, its emptiness
A small distant sign with no content,
Undramatic, interpreted and ignored,
Like the Tao, not showing off or getting on,
Just being Mount Fuji.
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