GRANDDAUGHTER OF A CELEBRATED BUDDHIST MONK

A young woman made her way home
In her black work pants and straw sandal vamps
Slim, with shoulders drooping
Along an embankment of blossoming chestnut flowers
She knew what there was to know
Of the in and outs and the seasons of work
Of fertilizers and plant breeding
In her discussions with those concerned
Of the causes of the year's rice blight
She showed translucent tact
Worthy of making into a talkie
While perched on the levee between tar-black seedling beds
Ostentatiously flinging aside bundle after bundle
Of chestnut tree and other branches
Who could have imagined that the big bloated monk
Who sent out his postcard to me today
Proceeding to get roaring drunk in his padded kimono
Could have given life to such a young woman
I asked the way to the house of this celebrated Buddhist monk
At the root of the mountain and a farmer who knew him said
"He's renown for his gambling and his unrefined home brew"
The bad relations among villagers came as a surprise to me
He was a gambler all right
His complexion and the extra-long wrinkles on his cheeks
Told you that he spent his nights in his little storehouse
Possessed by an uncommon excitement
The house was propped
On a grassy slope as pretty as a park
At the base of a huge pine mountain
Girded by pitch black cedars
Boasting what looked like a two-storey temple gate
And a whitewashed storehouse
Its persimmon and pear trees were radiant
But all that was stripped bone-white from the inside out
The monk wrote, "Yearly planting took place with all due care
Yet several years of sick crop resulted annually"
His penmanship was, I admit, exemplary
Yet why did he take up gambling
Could it be that he merely went astray
Due to being slightly more clever than the other villagers
Or could it be in his genes
Whichever, dark genes will remain dormant
Even inside a young woman as lovely
And grand as this, reliable
Who might have taken her farming village into a new era
They will be passed on to her descendants before awakening
At such time appearing as neither gambling nor unrefined sake
Where will those genes
Spark
Between 1950
And 2000
Dim ice clouds and a bone-white sky in the west
Behind you the pine forest
Takes on the appearance of a sea cucumber for the sun
And the marsh water shines back with the faintest light


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