“Our Lady of the Chronicles” by Linda Scheller

Our Lady of the Chronicles

 

Murasaki Shikibu (978-c.1014)

 

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An offering of

white chrysanthemums for you,

translucent sister

 

My brother’s lessons

taught me Chinese. Father sighed,

Pity you’re a girl

*

 

 

*

Lake Biwa, widowed—

the full moon whispered to me

The Tale of Genji

 

Lord Michinaga,

my patron, brought me to court

to teach his daughter

 

Though he pursues me,

he has neither read my book

nor captured my love

*

 

 

*

One courtesan’s sleeves

layered orange, green and mauve

presage her swift fall

 

Clamorous cracked bell—

I wince, smile and nod at some

inelegant verse

 

A drunken courtier

mauls his concubine, roaring

at her frail protests

*

 

 

 

*

Red amaryllis,

wilting in the heat of court,

longing for winter

 

Secluded, writing,

dawn’s first light taunts me. I rise

to tend my Empress

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