Abe-San, what’s the point?
You can inscribe the ceremonial hats
and let the court portraitist
paint the two of you, but your visitor
will soon return to the Mandarins
of his home, thinking of how to humiliate
you as he watches from Air Force One
Fujiyama disappearing in the fog.
It is only a matter of time before
the poets down south begin
trading lines about you. Imagine —
getting one yourself from
a frantic messenger who at first
looks like a wood cutter.
The visiting eminence,
he even seemed to turn
the koi to gluttons, the poets say,
though no more than you,
isn’t that right? As if pouring
a fall of cherry blossoms
on the surface of the pond.
I can imagine the poems
even now. It hardly matters,
you might say. We will be dead
before the consequences
of this man matter. And indeed
we might. May the springtime come,
the braziers be put away,
and the girls go walking
on the dykes of the rice paddies
with their hair in ponytails, unafraid.
In the spring of 2018, Paul Bone will be a writer-in-residence at Rivendell Writers’ Colony in Sewanee, Tennessee. He is the author of Nostalgia for Sacrifice, and his poems have been published in The Hopkins Review, The Sycamore Review, The Birmingham Poetry Review, Think, Cherry Tree, The Southern Poetry Review, Peacock Journal, and others. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Evansville and is Co-Editor of Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry and Measure Press.