Poetry / March 2012 (Issue 16)

The Great Wave off Kanagawa

by Linda Whittenberg

Brown sky warns disaster.
Wind fumes.
Indigo sea froths,
laps its many pronged tongues.
Clawing waves reach and crest.

Eight to a boat they row.
Each wears a quilted coat over layers of warm wool.
Each left his name on the rack by the door
 and, nameless,
set forth to fish.

Spray like a flock of starved birds
descends on the peapod boats.
    They row,
they row,
and still they row.

No father who charms his children with stories,
     not one who's cunning at cards,
not one whose lovemaking is legend,
not one who plays the lute.
No faces, no wide-mouthed horror.

Only peas in the opened pod
    fragile hen eggs, oval and white,
string of pearls—
no beating hearts,
    nothing brave.

Fuji, caped in purest white, presides.

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