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41. View from Kanaya on Tokaido Highway
We're back on the road, without Jack Kerouac,
Where the highway fords the rough water, and every aristocrat
Gets to ride his porter's shoulders. The bearers barely
Keep nose above foam, as their big boxes and bales
Risk squashing them, and sinking, right
In the middle of the crossing. Current laps at
Of the porters, with their clumsy shifting human loads.
Why not go around? The opening in the sand dunes,
And the main street of town leads right to this passage.
But what's over on our right, where the tide seems to have left,
And how can there be such waves, and such depth so fast?
Like a tsunami, overwhelming a beachfront street,
Or the sudden tide that overtook King John
And his baggage, struggling in wet sand,
This water's no friend. The teams could be competing
In a festival, but no one stands on the shore to applaud,
Or laugh, seeing the lead man on the green box go down,
Clawing at the smooth front, but not helped,
Because his neighbors need both arms to hold the poles.
Neutral as a soul, observing,
Hokusai allows his heart to churn the surface,
But shifts focus to one central fact,
Identifies at last with the overview,
The black and white image of a sound
These travelers cannot hear,
As he recovers from his own hubbub,
Returning to that calm mantra, Mount Fuji.
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