Dean Young

White Crane

I don't need to know any more about death
from the Japanese beetles
infesting the roses and plum
no matter what my neighbor sprays
in orange rubber gloves.
You can almost watch them writhe and wither,
pale and fall like party napkins
blown from a table just as light fades,
and the friends,
as often happens when light fades,
talk of something painful, glacial, pericardial,
and the napkins blow into the long grass.
When Basho writes of the long grass,
I don't need to know it has to do with death,
the characters reddish-brown and dim,
shadows of a rusted sword, an hour hand.
Imagine crossing mountains in summer snow
like Basho, all you own
on your back: brushes, robe,
the small gifts given in parting it's bad luck to leave behind.
I don't want to know what it's like to die on a rose,
sunk in perfume and fumes,
to die in summer with everything off its knees,
daisies scattered like eyesight by the fence,
gladiolas open and fallen in mud,
weighed down with opening and breeze.
I wonder what your thoughts were, Father,
after they took your glasses and teeth,
all of us bunched around you like clouds
knocked loose of their moorings,
the white bird lying over you,
its beak down your throat.
Rain, heartbeats of rain.
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