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Contents Page: April 1, 2011, vol 7 no 1

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Mark Smith


Scroll of Sketches

Lying on his back with filled lungs of phlegm, fingers frail as that autumn's leaves, bonsai plum no longer giving comfort, bloom, Shiki unrolled a scroll of sketches—given collection of the sturdy, the delicate of a world he was resigned to remember—as death further cooled his bed.

There were pages of Buddha covered with blossoms, blown hillsides of grass, temple trees growing out of drought and stubble. And suddenly he yearned for the feel of ground, frosty wind to rise against and walk again with notebook and pen, disciples in line behind not thinking of flesh's brevity, but of breath, persimmons, poems spoken to the air.

But he rolled up the scroll, asked Hekigoto to take it away. Blood filling his throat Shiki asked for gourd water, his coughing a contrast to the freshly fallen snow. Then his last long drink, the closing of eyes, the inward turning towards death.

from headstone to headstone
the butterfly lands
looking for a flower

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