February 5, 2023


after a woodblock print by Harunobu

THE HOBBY HORSE by Harunobu.

In this print, let’s pretend
the woman is the mother. She steps
from a block of wood,
freed by the artist’s gouge.
The umbrella in her hand tilts

over her son. A hobby horse
lurches beneath his legs
as if to result in arrival.
But distance means nothing
as cherry blossoms scour

the sky. Clouds of camellias rise
from a bamboo screen.
We are privy to glimpse
only a slice of the scene.
Orange & ochre repeat

throughout the print: stripes
on the horse’s robe, a pleat
on the mother’s kimono.
Instead of pleasure pearling
her face, her profile blurs.

Dusk dissolves as she imagines
she can fade away (bent
in obeisance).
But no.
The umbrella protects

from nothing,
The horse arches his neck.
As Earth slants,
the rocking boy knows
he is going nowhere.