“Our Lady of the Chronicles”

by Linda Scheller

Our Lady of the Chronicles


Murasaki Shikibu (978-c.1014)



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