Lingering at the bathhouse door,
I watch the woman bundle off children
into light-rain, small-lane Kyoto.

Skirt in hand, she glances
my way across the evening lane,
then up the walk after the party
of colored rain boots and umbrellas.

Wet-headed but warm, I'm waiting
for Hui to come out from the public bath,
but can't help thinking of America,
the disquiet strangers there inspire.

Cherry trees are just beginning to break
blossom, here, off Kitaoji-dori, north of town.

Now the woman is crossing the lane,
coming directly toward me. She wants
to give me her open umbrella,
insists that I take it

without knowing where I'm going
or who I am.

I thank her and bow,
and point to my broadbrimmed hat.

Am I sure, she implores, am I sure?

There's hardly a raindrop
in the rain-sweetened air.

She smiles and bows,
returns to the sliding doors of her house.

Kyoto, the old capital,
bursts into blossom in my heart.

                   April 6, 1995

Mike O'Connor | Notes
Contents | Mudlark No. 7