A Winter's Tale

enough—such terrible cold—it's dawn
his eyes opened slowly—look
a pair of mynahs come up to the window
in the ground, talking beak to beak, wing to wing

quavering dew climbs the jute leaves
once he was a boy with no elephant in his elephant pen
no horse in his horse stall . . .
still he would cross calm skies and seas

on a cane raft—the rest of the story is familiar
after eighty winters piled with dust and straw
bamboo leaves and grass make a lap for him one day
and cry—so you've come back, child . . . with sand-

painted faces day and night unfurl
a soft white sheet and smooth it over
his makeshift green cot—eyes closed in sleep
he too sees—the tender cleansing is complete

children—golden and silver—are yawning everywhere
even the frozen stones thaw—in such sunshine

—translated by Carolyn B. Brown