Night plummets as it does on the plain,
mist ambles through woods.
Only the tips of the mountain, grey
for a while, and the sea in the distance,
stretching its vast empty limbs.
Hiro stands and watches
the colour drain from the day.
Some will make it.
Some won’t.

Michi ni mayotte shimaimashita*

Then light from an inn trips into the street,
dancers let what comes
go. Others leave the little show,
walk towards the acid blue horizon.
She greets him with a cup of rice wine

It will be a radiant night.

You’re just one among many
who vanished.

 [* ‘I have lost my way’]

by Nancy Gaffield

‘Ishibe’ is copyright © Nancy Gaffield, 2011. It is reprinted from Tokaido Road by permission of CB editions.

Notes from CB editions:

Nancy Gaffield works as a senior lecturer at the University of Kent; she was born in the United States and lived in Japan for many years. Tokaido Road won the 2011 Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was shortlisted for the Forward First Collection Prize. Gaffield’s sequence of poems responds to Hiroshige’s woodcut prints (1833–4) depicting the landscapes and travellers of the Tokaido Road, which linked the Japanese eastern and western capitals of Edo and Kyoto. Submitting to the road and its relentless succession of departures and arrivals, the poems discover a freedom to move beyond the frames established by Hiroshige, not least in their voicing of regret and longing, grief and desire. You can find out more about Tokaido Road on CBe’s page, and view Hiroshige’s prints, ‘The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road’, here.

CB editions publishes no more than six books a year, mainly poetry and short fiction and including work in translation. Since 2008 its poetry titles have twice won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and have twice been shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the Forward First Collection Prize. In 2011 CBe put on Free Verse, a one-day book fair for poetry publishers to show their work and sell direct to the public; the event was repeated in September 2012 with over 50 publishers taking part. Find out more about the publisher from the website, where you can also sign up to the CB editions mailing list, or ‘like’ the publisher on Facebook to keep up-to-date with its activities.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.