Award-winning poet and editor Mari L’Esperance
on April 18, 2013 visited Kanto Gakuin University in
Yokohama, Japan where she kindly shared poems from
her 2008 collection The Darkened Temple and engaged
students about their responses to her work.
Mari’s latest book, co-edited with poet Thomas Q. Morin, is
Coming Close: Forty Essays on Philip Levine, a collection
of essays from various contributors in homage to contemporary
American poet and recent Laureate of the U.S. Philip Levine.
(see future blogpost)
|“Guest” poet Mari L’Esperance with Alan Botsford & his American poetry class students|
|Poet Mari L’Esperance & Alan Botsford|
Mari L’Esperance’s poetry page at Poetry Kanto.
For her visit to KGU, Mari read two wonderful poems from
her 2008 collection, “Prayer” and “Grief is Deep Green.” Posted
below is a third poem which she had planned to read but didn’t,
for lack of time, entitled “The Bush Warbler Laments to the
THE BUSH WARBLER LAMENTS TO THE WOODCUTTER
– Mari L’Esperance
I offered you sanctuary with one condition.
Even this much you could not hold.
When you looked into the forbidden chamber,
my three daughters became birds
and flew away from me forever.
Memory of our transgressions is a stone. It lies
on the seabed of our deepest forgetting.
–regret and sorrow in the making
Before you came I swept this house daily
with a long broom of rice straw.
Often I would wander from room to room,
touching each treasure as I passed:
a golden screen, three red laquer bowls–
Now, all is dust suspended in late sunlight.
This forest house, with its paper doors and secrets,
is too large for me now. Let it dissolve in mist
and absence, no trace left for the lost children.
What am I but the flower of your deepest self?
— crushed chrysanthemum petals underfoot
Instead, I am cast out across vast distances,
circling far above the trees, never to be human.
You will say that a grand house once stood
in a forest clearing. Then: nothing but birdcalls.
Longing itself is nothing but the heart’s open spaces.
— regret and sorrow, come calling
If I could make it so, I would be the one left alone
in the meadow, rubbing my eyes and wondering.
Remember this: I, once woman, took you in,
an exchange for a promise kept.
Three maidens startled, then transformed into birds.
Whatever you abandon returns in your dreams.
for more poems, see Mari L’Esperance’s poetry page at Poetry Kanto.