Tuesday, June 16, 2020

to my teacher


An old grave hidden away at the foot of a deserted hill, 
Overrun with rank weeds growing unchecked year after year; 
There is no one left to tend the tomb, 
And only an occasional woodcutter passes by. 
Once I was his pupil, a youth with shaggy hair, 
Learning deeply from him by the Narrow River. 
One morning I set off on my solitary journey 
And the years passed between us in silence. 
Now I have returned to find him at rest here; 
How can I honor his departed spirit? 
I pour a dipper of pure water over his tombstone 
And offer a silent prayer. 
The sun suddenly disappears behind the hill 
And I’m enveloped by the roar of the wind in the pines. 
I try to pull myself away but cannot; 
A flood of tears soaks my sleeves.

~ Ryokan
art by Thomas Wood