At the slow-gaited end of summer’s day, I walk
to the pond—dragonflies are darting as precisely
as needles tatting the decorative patterns
of lace-charts. A kingfisher snatches a dragonfly
mid-flight—holds it in its bill like an ampoule
of iridescent magenta ink. An egret lifts slowly
into the sky—smoke from a clutch of joss sticks.
Koi sip at the surface, their lips like the rubber
rings of party balloons. I cross the wooden bridge,
hear a polyphonic tinkling of water, a tizwas
of insects soft-pedalling above white stones.
A damselfly, in rapid flight—a scholiast’s pen
annotating in tight margins—stops, touches down
on a lily pad. Three ibis swallow what they’ve caught
from leaf-pulp and bottom slime. A heron steps
with the sacrosanct posture of a Shinto priest
about to cleanse a shrine with prayer. Soon I’ll see
it forage among the lotus whose petals are soft
and thick as human earlobes, before it rises again—
legs trailing under it long and thin as toasting forks.