During the day, an old man comes to fish the river
a child sits beneath a tree    surprised
the fisherman is calm, unhurried    unlike the fish
whose fate is changeable    the old man’s day
witnessed by the child    though she
can hardly guess at his night-time
she only knows that in a bamboo grove far away
one can barely discern the old man’s house    the child never
enters the dark green bamboo shelter             keeps watch
for the old man on the small river bank on a rainy day
his white whiskers visible under a bamboo hat    flashing silver
like a crucian carp’s belly    the fish meets his fate
is loaded into a bamboo basket    carried off by the fisherman
during this entire day    rainwater and the small river
trace the child’s shadow    under the tree
as her bench caves in    she worries
about the fish’s fate as they come and go
grasping the bait in their mouths    spitting it out
sometimes    one among them
luckily takes the bait    scooped up by the old man
who walks into another fate    sees people    chatting    smiling
courteously . . . the child listens to the old man’s teachings
she cannot grow up during summer    summer’s body
unveils    mosquitoes’ fervor    like fish out of water
leads the old man away    in summer’s foul stench, suffused with death
too near to us    on that night    in the small house in a bamboo grove
the old man was killed for money
though rumor has it too many ghosts kept chasing him

Translated by Susan M. Schultz and Jennifer Feeley