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Sport 33: Spring 2005

Fay Zwicky — Hokusai on the Shore

page 53

Fay Zwicky

Hokusai on the Shore

On the coast of a faraway ocean
where the sun sinks daily
a monster wave rears itself
high above a tiny figure
a young man crouched on his board.
The watchers stand fixed
on the sand and gape.

You were seventy when your wave
sprang alive. Old, ill, destitute
your money gambled away by your
grandson, your name forgotten
by the world you'd survived.
Your monster rode out
talons curved higher than heaven,
bent to envelop three boats
and their cowering oarsmen.

After all those anonymous years
beggared by petrified artefacts
your people took note, applauded,
flooded you—rewards, praise,
promises mounted. Near death
you raised life. Who among us
makes such miracles? Who keeps
a steady eye on mystery?

Quick and slow, fierce and meek,
quietly waiting came your answer:
'Until I was seventy, nothing I drew
was worthy of notice. When I'm eighty,
I hope to have made progress.'