Old Folk for New Poets - Part II

Fernando Fidanza

Short Days - By Peter Engen

they’re cutting down rows of corn at the knees
separating pieces of gold
from outgrown garments
gathering seed and
leaving thin feathered battlefields

my father’s soft eyes resting in a buried oak box
coffined long enough that I’ve
completely forgotten the sound of his voice
only words remain in quiet corners
like a farmers almanac
fingertipped from the shelf

the sun
just an orange lozenge now
melting inside the hollow mouth of night

Senbazuru - By Konstantinos Doxiadis

The old man, bedridden, frail,
kept vigil, night and day.
His gaze, never wavering from the window.

‘Rest’ his wife would plead, propping his pillows
striving to bring him a moments respite.
But the man persisted, his eyes
shutting only from fatigue.

The old couple lived on Izakuya mountain
famed for its healing springs.
And every morning, with the rising of the sun,
would follow a crane, slowly beating its wings.

For near three years this went on,
the stricken wife growing older and frailer herself.

If only he listened;
heeded my advice;
allowed me to administer the medicine.

On the morning of the thousandth day the old man stood,
and as the crane passed by, its wings slowly beating,
he too passed with it.

May you rest, my love,
free from pain.

Laying down her weary body,
the sheets still warm from his;
A gust of wind, stroked the curtains.

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