The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Yoko Danno


on a moonlit night
the child alone
is playing hopscotch,

by the game, not knowing
it's past time to go home⎯each time

she kicks the cobblestone
over a line chalked on the street,
she remembers her grandmother saying,

when you travel to a foreign country
you must cross a border.
when you step into a new land

you'll be relieved,
to find an image of yourself,
the one you abandoned in a mirror⎯

the child keeps breaking
through the white line,
her shadow hopping behind her

like a twin⎯grandma, every
new line leads me to another!


new:                not existing before
                        in the space
                        between eyebrows, the deep
                                     round well
                                               glistening at the bottom

last quarter:     his bow drawn
                        to its full
                        extent, way out of orbit            
                                     the arrow
                                              disappears in a flash

full:                  beyond her usual
                        she passes out of reach            
                                  of our eyes  
                                       fading out fixed stars

first quarter:     moving slowly                 
                        each day the luminous         
                                        swelling to a whole

new:                yin and yang
                        in the golden bowl                      
                                          a handful of seed dust


yesterday the house was empty⎯

                rustled the carpet
                                           of dry sedge grass,
                 streaming through
                                           a cleft of the shingled roof,

      pale grey mist
                      hovered on the lake
                                           hiding incessant ripples⎯

bamboo leaves
            in the blink of a star's

white feathers
                      the weaver at her loom
                                           keeps weaving,

              i want
                             a clear sky,
       so he
              may wade
                                           across the milky river.

the earth fleeting
               under their feet,
golden dust of the sun
            swirling in each other's

at dawn today⎯

                           with dew,


they depart,
                   each heading
                                       for the next
                                                          growing season.


a wind is blowing
          from the caribbean sea,
                                                                a singer sings sweetly,

on our way home my little girl found a bird,
eyes closed in the wayside shrubbery⎯
i picked it up and felt it barely breathing,
the feathers soft, ash-green, on my palm⎯

a woman is
                  a rough sea
                                    quiet down below,
                                                                she lifts her voice,

the fish jumped off the cutting board,
flopping around on the wooden floor.
with a knife in my hand, frozen, i watched
until the headless carp calmed down⎯

a woman is
                  a turbulent reflection
                                of the rumbling sky,
                                                               the singer softly groans,

the sun glazing the parched fields,
the woman wailed like a wounded animal
that had lost its young, and went out
for food, water and a mate⎯

a woman is always
                                                              the voice is whispering,

we put out to sea⎯my little girl sets free
the tiniest of the three fish she caught,
and we eat the rest to celebrate her birthday⎯

a wind is blowing
                           on the blue-green sea,
                                                                we breathe in,
                                        blow into paper balloons,
                                                                      and let them go.   


past the point of no return,
our jet trails
sparkling white claw marks⎯

     last night a burglar tore
          a page from my unraveled
               mystery book,

     "how can you find
          a flower blooming
               in an icy lake?"
                                  the missing page says⎯

     the moment
          a hand touches a hand,
               palm to palm,
                    skin to skin     
                         under clear fresh water,

         vapor rises
              from soft wet leaves,
                   condenses into
                        a blue orchid . . . freezes . . .

as we fly higher
through air stratums
to the home of the stars
the temperature falls.

not even a blanket,
nor the heat of blood circulating
through a polar bear scratching the air
can melt the flower in ice.

Copyright 2006-7 by Cook Communication