Four tankas


Qi Baishi (1864-1957), Bindweed

Bindweed in the hedge,
Nasturtium on the leaf pile,
Owl glides on soft wing,
Am I—I ask a stranger—
On the way for The Ostrich?


Confess, if you must,
In impenetrable code.
Lest she forgive you.
Impenetrable, but made
To bear another meaning.


River watercress,
Bicycles against a wall,
Things to think about
At night and in the morning
In the prayer house over Tved.


Girls in crinolines
Dance to the tune of the stairs,
In ascending and
Descending columns, to right
And left. Right and left again.