Summer 2002 • Vol. XXIV No. 3/4 PoetryJuly 1, 2002 |

The Insomnia of Murasaki Shikibu

Dew that hidesIn the plumes of autumn grass,Why do you thusRefuse to leaveThe withered fields?       —Murasaki Shikibu, b. circa 978   The sheer divestment      of a tonsured moon, a tenth-month sky as blue and lustral as the sacred scrolls,      yet the wolf-hair wick of my writing brush— frozen with frost to the inkstand— cannot express the inexpressible.      I'm unpreparedly drunk on the field-dank chrysanthemum wine of love, too old, too old to sit awake,      face wet and defined in the vented shutter's shive of ice—and night—. Black mouth, singing floorboard, spies      in the lattices—I should be past this hungry wound of wanting. Leave to others this open, shinden      house, its promiscuous maze of murk and opaque screens of state, where crowded bodies snore, or lurk,      or encounter one another all night long in the prevaricating jade of desire. A scarl

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Dew that hidesIn the plumes of autumn grass,Why do you thusRefuse to leaveThe withered fields?       —Murasaki Shikibu, b. circa 978   The sheer divestment      of a tonsured moon, a tenth-month sky […]

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