Judy Haswell

The Rain in Japan

On the radio a man is reporting
from some far-off mountain
monastery where he has come
for two days to interview
and accompany a monk who,
by night, walks hundreds of
miles to please his Buddha.
It is one am and they are
about to set off when the voice
complains of the difficulty
of recording in the rain
the monk praying as he walks.
'Listen to it', he says.
'Though a shower be only
the length of a haiku, it
is heavy and drenching.'
Seventeen syllables drum
on the wooden tiles and
I listen, too soothed by
the sound and the rhythm to
sympathise. How many miles
to please or appease? The man
did say but I have forgotten.
Sol/vi/tur am/bu/lan/do.
There is a limit. How many
syllables? I loose count.
I try counting rhymes instead
but give up. The room is full
of raining. Torrents of stanzas.
We're into linked poetry now.
Whose turn to compose? The monk's.
I switch off the rain in Japan
to give him some time alone and quietness.

© Judy Haswell 1996