The Kegon Falls
Water-tumbler, breaking its back
against cliffs that guide the appointed death-
route. It rises, whitely,
ghost-like before dying entire. All
of life—rains, roe twitching
into swimmers, mud’s strangulations,
ache of sun like oppressive love—crashes
up. First freedom, first triumph.
—After the woodblock print The Kegon Falls by Keisai Eisen, 1789–1848, Japan
A Mother Dressing Her Son in a Kimono
He stands, suddenly more man than animal,
but naked and bald-headed, his penis a bashful sprig.
Spring has delivered its news. She kneels
and guides the sleeves over fresh muscles. Her breasts
retreat back to ornament. The romance of their first
year together, milky nights in bed, quietly ends.
—After the woodblock print A Mother Dressing Her Son in a Kimono by Suzuki Harunobo, 1724–1770, Japan
Paula Bohince is the author of The Children (2012) and Incident at the Edge of Bayonet Woods (2008), which was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Irish Times, The Nation, Granta, Slate, and The Yale Review. She received the 2013 George Bogin Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America.