For Mr. David Lipman, Esq. and his insistence
that I would have been better off working in a 7/11 for the last 40 years...
For Les Blakebrough and the memory of John Chappell
Bitter blue fingers
Winter nineteen sixty-three A.D.
showa thirty eight
Over a low pine covered splay of hills in Shiga
West-Southwest of the outlet of Lake Biwa
Domura village, set on sandy fans of the sweep
and turn of a river
Draining the rotten-granite hills up Shigaraki
On a nineteen-fifty-seven Honda cycle model C
Rode with some Yamanashi wine "St. Neige"
Into the farmyard and the bellowing kiln
Les & John
In ragged shirts and pants, dried slip
Stuck to with pine needle pitch
Through peephole white blast glow
No saggers tilting yet and seegers bending
Neatly in a row--
Even their beards caked up with mud and soot
Firing for fourteen hours. How does she go.
Porcelain & Stoneware: cheese dish. Twenty cups.
Tokuri. Vases. Black chawan.
Crosslegged rest on the dirt,
eye cocked to smoke--
The hands you layed on clay
creamed to the lip of nothing
and coaxt to a white dancing heat that day
Will linger centuries in these towns and loams
And speak to men or beasts
When Japanese and English
are dead tongues.
from " The Back Country"