Friday, August 24, 2012


artwork: katsushika hokusai (the metropolitan museum of art)

by Martha Kaplan

The gardens beautiful without a doubt
and so the crowds throng
passing through the not quite Japanese garden
along the path and over the bridge,
pausing there to gaze long at the water lilies,
imagining those icons made famous
by the painter’s hands, they contemplate the color
of sky and clouds shimmering in the pond,
they move then through the shadowed trees,
along the cindered path opening bright and wide
into the cottage gardens, full floral, with
lavender borders, hollyhocks in high
color, roses everywhere on green lattices,
momentarily, they sit, benched, by the borders,
holding guidebooks,
or huddled on the steps, journaling.

Rested, they pass into the pink house framed in green
shutters, ivy and white roses climbing its walls,
they shoulder from room to room
peering closely at imitations
of the great painter’s works:
crowds of French, crowds of Americans,
crowds of Germans, Italians, Greeks, Czechs, and Yugoslavs
British, Spanish, Scots, Belgians, and Dutch,
Latinos and Latinas, even Solomon Islanders, and Japanese
flowers of all sorts pass through the blue
and yellow kitchen, the bedrooms, and windowed study,
they celebrate the house, examining every detail,
and yet they fail to pause for the art that moved the painter’s eye,
an inspiration, the clearest lines and the bluest blues on every wall:
The Wave, A Thousand Views Along the Tokaido Road
still slightly creased, as if just lifted from the packing boxes
of precious porcelain.

~ first published in Mobius, The Poetry Magazine