milky way

Shiki’s ambition
an insatiable tiger
stripped of its claws

his poem journeys
to smaller mountains now
- cockscomb and peony

from his sickbed
observing the beauty
of all that passes 

a fish in a bowl
swimming in glass-walled freedom
this painful beauty

a moonflower falls
the night so quiet
it echoes

dawn breaks early
the night too short
and painfully long

his fever rising
how he longs for the rain
of the picture-book store

Shiki’s frail hand
love letters to a garden
seen through a window 

Shiki in his bed 
strolling through the garden
stepping on nothing

Shiki flies out
among the chrysanthemums
- a butterfly 

outside his window
the dew evaporates
each drop a Shiki

the invalid poet
a once in a lifetime

Shiki rises up
his body motionless
- hototogisu

Shiki’s death bed 
the bird has taken flight
unseen garden

Shiki’s empty bed
his enduring brilliance 
loaned to a star