The Old Fisherman
—Không Lộ (d. 1119)
The river flows a thousand miles under an endless sky.
Wisps of smoke float over a village ringed with mulberry trees.
An old fisherman sleeps on the bank. No one disturbs him.
When he awakens at dusk, his boat is ghostly with frost.
& the dull normal rain-gray seconds
& subdivisions of seconds
& somehow sentences.
Late autumn leaves stripping off the trees today in a warm wind. Unseasonable & unsettling like the weather in my body, which feels odd but not actually abnormal–not having crossed some line defined by pathology. Weather must be the master-metaphor for illness.
It appears that fall is here. The nights have become chilly & the days cool & breezy. The maple trees continue to change color, with reds & yellows predominating. The days have been clear & sunny & gloriously autumnal, with that particular smell in the air–or of the air–which I cannot really characterize. The life of the woods & garden is most intense this time of year, the colors heightened, the sounds (blue jays) sharpened.
I like to sleep & I sleep well in this weather, the breeze making its low noise in the branches, but I fear to dream, for most of my dreams are set in that other world–the world in which I was not ill–so that I wake always back into the reality of my illness.
After a dry summer we’re having a rainy day, with lines of thunderstorms moving through. Tomorrow is also supposed to be rainy. I find such days calming, especially when the storm is coming down hardest. At its most furious the storm is most calming. It’s hot & muggy now, I could use another downpour.
Gratitude: A Sentence
With the trees in full leaf in high summer
I can only see a little patch of the river
through the lower branches reflecting the sky
with its drifting cumulus & altocumulus,
but like a fragment of mirror, that patch
of river intensifies what it reflects—
especially the hues & values of sunrise
(orange) & sunset (yellow), with every shade
of every other color passing across
the smooth or ruffled surface every day.