Ten Tanka

Cherry petals float
beneath the ancient stone bridge.
Silhouette branches
reflected in dark water
reflect on their lost blossoms.

carefully raked stones.
Silence.  Trees pruned to express
some essential truth.
Each stone belongs where it is,
each monk will hear one hand clap.


                      each day, just sit.  Sit.
                      For weeks, sitting is sitting.
                      Mind remains just mind.
                      Then with a sudden fresh breeze,
                      Sitting now becomes sitting!

wide old wooden boards
curved like an old woman's back,
silent as her grave.
While shoeless feet step softly,
faces seek enlightenment.

posing demurely
before the sakura tree
girl in kimono.
Sakura shower!  Petals
become one with kimono.

Orange pagoda
atop a steep island hill.
What seekers come for
wisdom or enlightenment?
A lone deer grazes outside.

blossoms remind me
i shall run out of seasons.
still, i can't resist
diving into this moment.
i see only the blossoms.

See this tree's shadow?
Even this will never be
just as it is now.
Sun moves, clouds pass, the tree grows.
Tomorrow, are you still you ?

                              on the shrine's grey roof
                              a heron alights, and stands
                              as if carved right there.
                              Just as quickly he flies off,
                              unaware of his beauty.


                            sakura blossoms,
                            an arch surrounded by sea,
                            sunlight on green leaves.
                            No peace, no beauty, no rest
                            if the mind will not be clear.

Note: The tanka is a five-line Japanese poetry form from which the haiku was derived.  A tanka is 31 syllables arranged in five lines: 5-7-5-7-7.  [ Haiku = first three lines of that, 5-7-5.] 

I have written many tanka and have combined tanka with photographs elsewhere; but our visit to Japan particularly seemed to require that treatment.  These are a work in progress.  Comments welcomed.

               Young couple strides past
               invisible old couple
               pushing their walkers,
               bent double with years longer
               and shorter than youth can guess.

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