Crossing The Bridge (in a Japanese Garden)

I stand alone and inhale deeply
freeing myself from stress and worry
in this conservative, reverent place.
the cool morning air brings
a moist, earth-rich dark soil smell
to fill my lungs.
a gentle breeze shakes dew drop sprinkles
onto my shaved head.
I am at peace with the Mother.

a shallow trench worn
through the center of a large stone
by a thousand years of foot traffic
along this stroll-garden path.
I am humbled and awe-struck
in this ancient Japanese garden.
the orange-red fuzzy orb
of early morning sun lights
the tops of fragrant long needle
pine trees shaped into large ‘S’ curves
growing at turns in the path.

there is controlled random beauty in a
tightly pruned and trimmed
solid wall of lush green to my right.
delicate leaves wave gently,
a thousand tiny paper thin hands
in an unfelt breeze.
on my left is an open waiting booth
with weathered seat beside
a bamboo hammer fountain and
a stone basin with a small gourd.
I sit, close my eyes and relax from head to feet
I count to the rhythm of the bamboo hammer to slow my pulse.
I am at peace with the Mother.

a horizontal window
has been cut in the solid wall of green
that can only be seen while sitting.
It is a window to another world...
across water to another garden
just beginning to catch the sun
illuminating bright colored flowers.
I lift the ghord and sip cold refreshing water
I can hear the steady rhythm of water
falling onto a hollow log somewhere nearby,
background to the slow hammer.
a strange shrill “cree... cree... cree!”
comes from across the water,
then a soft slow “whish.... whish.... whish”
as a large unseen bird makes slow
wing strokes over the water
on the other side of the green wall.

two paths lead from the waiting booth.
one turns and starts up the hill behind.
it is marked with a head sized stone
tied with black silk cord to indicate
it is not to be walked on today.
the other path curves around the green wall and disappears toward the water.

I rise and walk the path.
bare feet precisely placed
on irregular spaced
smooth foot stones to regulate my pace.
a minimal disturbance of this
pristine, precious, precise habitat
two walls of green
converge and close above
as the path turns right
through a moist green tunnel.
I step out, slightly stooped, to a dynamic,
colorful, bright, inviting Monet world.

I pause, my eyes savoring
the sinuous feminine narrowing
of a pond joined by
an upward-thrusting
stone, steep-arched bridge which
invites me to climb,
to feast on nature’s candy.
sweet, natural perfumes float from the
carnival colors on the one shore
to soft green fir on the opposing shore.
I am at peace with the Mother.

the moving kaleidoscope of reflected colors,
a background to large, floating,
green parchment, curl-edged lily pads.
I climb the steps and stand atop the bridge
my taiko happi coat flaps in a breeze.
I grasp two smooth-worn cherry wood
carved snakehead post caps
and lean over the edge.
White and orange shadow shapes
slip through the dark water,
drawn to my still, phallic shadow.
for a long moment I leave my body,
sail lightly through the warm air
over the cool water,
humus smells sprinkled with
the sweet sexual aroma of
nature perpetuating
the death/joy/life/joy/death/joy cycle.
I return with a shudder and gasp.

I descend the bridge onto
the curving even-spaced stone path,
I hunker and look back
at the light green lily bowls
now floating in black water, and
ponder the life spirit of this place
at peace with the Mother.

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Comment by Nguyễn Thị Thanh Hương on February 21, 2010 at 2:18pm

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