Paul Merchant

Time is what keeps everything from happening all at once.

Inspired by the Kokinshu

   now that your dreams
can climb the trees
   that grow on mountain peaks
they will embrace    this wind
like waves of wisteria

   after the night fell
ashamed    I buried my heart
   with leaves and grass and earth
but even the stones
became kindling to a flame

   when the pain has gone
and my breath    is no longer
   shallow as this mountain stream
the pulse of my heart will be
still to forgive

   are these tender branches
topped with soft blossoms
   and home    to our nightingale
from the same tree that stood
stark in the harsh winter This poem sequence was written in 2009 after discovering the Japanese Kokin Wakashū in a class taught by the poet Jonathan Johnson.