Kyoto, Without Me, by Nathalie Anderson

Kyoto, Without Me
~Nathalie Anderson 


chills and goes dark.  At this very instant

even the Gion district – its silk suits, its draggled

dragon-kimono drag – blows out, blows shut


and a hostess hesitates mid-gateway,

not sure what she’s missing, thinking to lift

from its chest again the quilted antique jacket.


Here, autumn falls hard.  Trees bare their bones and

the winds rake through them.  Leaves shiver the streets,

shrinking from umber down into dun.  There –


bronze over ochre, ochre over gold,

each garden’s lanterned by the flickering:

full-moon maple, dancing-peacock maple –


or would be, were I there to see it.  Where

at highest noon in the furthest reaches

of Maruyami Park, one man only


passed me striding, and one man only

passed me sighing, where the ghost fern curls

to the finger pool, and the moss deepens,


at this very instant, does anyone linger,

bereft of even the sickle moon,

unaware that it’s me that he’s missing?



Nathalie Anderson’s first book, Following Fred Astaire, won the 1998 Washington Prize from The Word Works, and her second, Crawlers, received the 2005 McGovern Prize from Ashland Poetry Press; her third, Quiver, was published in 2011 by Penstroke Press. Anderson’s poems have appeared in such journals as The New Yorker, Nimrod, North American Review, Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, and Southern Poetry Review, among others.

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