Jan/Feb 2019 Poetry Special Feature

How to Find Serenity in the Offseason

by Evan Richards

Image salvaged from public domain

How to Find Serenity in the Offseason

in a sculpture garden on Mt. Hakone,
mist overflows the valley;
no views of Fuji or the sea, but the drizzle
has kept the crowds away,
and the greenery is calming against the grey.

Wander across lawns, down
switchback hills of flowers,
through sculptures of stone and steel.

Follow the path into a forest,
up and down stairs, over bridges, under arches,
splitting and twisting and twining into a gut-like labyrinth.

Round a copse of trees and empty into a courtyard
where the path opens to a floor of tiny stone triangles
knit together in dark mortar.

Kneel on the damp ground. Rainwater
soaks the denim stretched across your knees.
A moment of humility, or maybe you're still hungover
from keeping pace with those English kids on gap year,
the only others at the club on a Kyoto Sunday,
lantern-lit street to the hotel still whirling in memory.

Sink, spread weight across shin bones,
remove glasses, brush frizzy warm-season hair from forehead.
Lean forward and allow the angled stones to fill your field of vision
until all you see is pattern.

Listen to kettledrum drips
as jeans steep through to the calf,
and wonder what you'd be looking at
if you could trace your line of sight down
to the other side of the Earth.


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