She said I should be thankful
that I am not a rice farmer.
She said that I should be thankful
that I am not over
seven feet tall, and not
less than four feet
eight inches, although she
concedes that four feet nine
would not be cause for celebration.
She says I should be thankful
I was not dropped
on my head as a baby.
I am thankful
for all of these things,
and for her, for she
saves me countless hours
remember things for which
I probably should be thankful.


At first it is a checkerboard of ponds
neatly arrayed, reflecting the sun,
the work of man, for God so rarely
plays geometrician with creation, less
often still using right angles.

Soon enough green blades reach up
through the shirred surface, random,
reaching for a sun they can never touch.

Later, it is a field, the water
pooling at the roots is lost
in the emerald sea, its waves
now generated by the wind
from the distant mountain.

It is marigold yellow now, fading
day by day to curry, the spikelets
slowly letting go their grip
on the grains that will soon lie
on the bamboo mats, drinking
the last of the sun they will know.


The motion begins deep within you,
bleeds quickly outward
until it blankets the web
between your fingers and toes, collects
behind the ears as you hurtle
on parallel steel threads
connecting Tokyo and Osaka.
You are down to the broad fields
of golden-yellow beckoning
the impending harvest, the rice
swaying in the unfelt breeze.
In the furrow, neatly excised,
the water burns with the gold
of the plants and the blaze orange
of the sun retreating
behind the mountain, tired
after a long day battling winter’s approach.
The stream is a deep, intense blue
out-of-place on this golden canvas,
a wound, flowing to the horizon.
The almost perpetual snow cap
of the great mountain casts
a winking glance at the rice,
a lookout for the moon.
In the fields are small huts,
some lit, in this one two men
kneeling before a small altar.
I want to rise from my seat,
step from the bullet train
and wade through the rice
to join them, share a cup
of carefully brewed tea
and settle in the silence
under the watchful eyes
of the guardian mountain



It is not the seeing
but the looking that
will drive you to the edge.
It is easy to see, you
hardly need eyes for that task,
but to look is beyond seeing.
Do you think this
a mere grain of rice?
Look closely, do you see
the entire world?
Do not describe
what you see, describe
only what is there
without words, for words
are incapable of providing
a description of everything
even when held in your hand.