Ome is Plum in Japanese…as in Plum Tree.
Kami is a spirit, or demon…sort of.
Uguisu is one name for the Bush Warbler, or what stands in for the Nightingale.
Lord Nyo’s Continuing Lament, Part 5
Lord Nyo was known
For three things:
He was attempting a fourth:
It wasn’t going well.
Leaving orders not to be disturbed
(He would have only tea and rice)
The servants thought their master possessed:
Possessed by a demon!
Possessed by an uncaring kami.
Who didn’t know sake was
The life-blood of their master?
What was next?
Would he throw aside his two swords
And take the tonsure– become a monk?
By the pale light of a moon
Too thin to fatten the road,
Lord Nyo applied himself
To brush and paper
His face a terrible scowl,
His tongue gripped between his teeth,
The air peppered with grunts and soft curses.
The bullfrogs outside called to him.
He remembered this same effort
Decades ago when his Priest-tutor
Attempted to refine his calligraphy
When all he wanted was a sharp stick
To gig frogs. Ah!
Through the night
Lady Nyo and her old nurse
Watched from across the hall,
Watched the candle flare up and die
As Lord Nyo burned each poem,
Knowing his words inelegant
Sensing his mind too dull to enflame
The love, forgiveness, passion of his wife.
Towards dawn the cry of an uguisu
Pierced the dark,
Singing against the light
Of that watery moon,
In a blossoming ome
Outside his window.
Her song went deep,
Rendering him helpless,
Stilling his whirling head,
Refreshing his heart.
It was such a simple thing.
Being of the world
He missed what was important.
Nature, in the form of a simple bird,
In the form of a tone-poem,
Was offering an answer:
A path to redemption
If only he would listen.
Lord Nyo picked up his brush,
Stroked it across the stone
Into the puddle of watery ink,
And with his wrist bent properly,
Wrote this character:
(Emptiness, a void, forgetting the forms of the material world.)
It was a start.
It was what the little bird sang:
Of emptiness, the void,
The return to his nature, to Nature,
That finer nature,
Before the grizzled warrior–
The void where hope was possible,
Where his life could begin.
He slept that night
Listening to the frogs of his childhood
And the nightingale in the plum,
Both bathed in the watery moonlight.
Copyrighted, 2011, 2013