30 Poems for National Poetry Month: Day 11
April 11, 2013
Hard night rain.
My love exits the train,
Making her connection
Soaking my sleeves,
Wet with longing.
Four days too long.
What time is enough?
CONTEXT: I first became interested and engaged in Japanese poetry in the early to mid-1980s, through Gary Snyder and Kenneth Rexroth. I was drawn specifically to the Man’yōshū (Ten Thousand Leaves anthology) poets.
I liked that the Man’yōshū poets were less well-known than the great Haiku poets — Basho, Busan, and Issa — and their forms and styles were more varied, including long poems (chōka), short poems (tanka), and even tan-renga (short connecting poems).
The phrase “soaked sleeves” or “soaking sleeves,” was used to represent tears shed for an absent lover — whether lost or just far from one’s side. It could also connote longing for place or countryside.
I first used the phrase and a loose tanka form in my “Glimmerglass Poems,” which were written during the summer of 1985 in Cooperstown, NY. You can read them HERE as they appeared in the journal Terrain.
I use it here to draw a parallel between the rain of last night’s storm and my sadness at having to be away from Samantha for the next four days.
–Scott Edward Anderson