For Jon - Thanks for the memory - Dad
Beyond the Great Wave
Know where Edo was? Floating world. Where Tokyo now. Think I'm from there? Maybe. But I'm student. Undergraduate. English and American Literature. Hardworking. Mature. Guess how old. Forty? Maybe.
Friday evening, Mitsue mention Japanese art exhibition. Katsushika Hokusai. Beyond Great Wave. British Museum. Only two days left. She check online. Sold out. Rock up on day. Maybe we get lucky.
Saturday morning, 8:42. Hundred metres from front of queue. Gate open nine o'clock. Line up inside to check bags. Queue again to pay. Twenty metres from desk. Sudden announcement. All tickets gone. Great wave of disappointment. Try again tomorrow.
Next day. Rise early. Arrive museum, 7:27. Five metres from front of queue. Mitsue not here. Otherwise engaged. We fellow students. Not in relationship. Two men behind me. Old and young.|
Quick today. No bag to check. Straight to desk. Touch card. Put ticket in notebook. Notebook in pocket. Come back, 11:20.
Men from queue enter bookshop. Father and son? Maybe. Browse Hokusai display, Vikings, British watercolour landscapes. Young man open children's book. Old man point to illustration. Talk quietly. Return to Great Court. Leave building.
Beautiful sunny day outside. Men exit through gate. Cross road. I follow ...
Nice and quiet. Father and son stroll in Sunday morning sunshine. Sleuth tail in shadow. Older man tall, turquoise T-shirt, dark trousers. Young man slim, charcoal top, olive chinos. Who they are? Where they from? Drawn by Great Wave.|
Seven streets meet at white pillar with necklace of blue sundials. Carved and gilded. Solar chronometer. Accurate to ten seconds.
Men continue walk. Find hidden passage to tiny triangular courtyard with colourful shops. Café not open. Leave by different corner. Decide not to follow. Might notice. Sad they go. Felt like secret friends. Find seat. Stay here to write poem.
Ten o'clock. Café open for business. 26 Grains. People queue for porridge. Rub shoulders with friends in sunshine. Enjoy conversation. Turmeric almond latte. Poet alone, not lonely. Sit in shade with ginger tea from shop.|
Notebook fall open at Hokusai ticket. Give poet idea. Jot down words ...
moon and tide ... drag and drop ... sea beat rock ... waves roll sand ... grains make glass ... fill with grains ... boil an egg ...
Silicon chronometer. Neat concept, dodgy sonnet. Shakespeare unimpressed. Better student than poet.
Nice place to chill. Positive vibe. Bring Mitsue here? Maybe not. Same tutor group. Not girlfriend. Too old, too young.
Men from queue return to sunny courtyard with colourful shops. Plants in painted drums. Heart lift. Not alone now. Not just rubbing shoulders. More like family reunion. Men buy porridge from 26 Grains. White china bowls, clear plastic spoons, brown paper napkins. Father and son eat together on wooden bench.|
Observe discretely. Father mid-60s. Silver hair, neat grey beard. Son good-looking, shaved head, dark stubble. Early 30s. No socks. Father finish porridge. Take photo of son with bowl in left hand, spoon in right.
Mitsue text me. Ask if I get ticket. When I look up, men gone.
Still time for something to eat. Check menu on little wooden clipboard. Look like poem on hanging scroll ...|
Hazelnut & Butter
Nordic pear just right. Coconut milk oats, spices, seeds, cacao crumble, coconut yogurt, pear, maple. Tasty, but burn tongue. Set aside bowl to cool. Try to compose haiku in English. Fleeting moment. Mimic Japanese form and style ...
six and twenty grains
Literary nonsense. Bashō turn in grave. Mitsue giggle.
Not what you think. She remind me of daughter. Four years now. Maybe forget exhibition. Too painful.
Enter museum, 11:20. (Spot men from queue across room.)|
Umezawa Manor in Sagami Province. Cranes feed in morning mist. Fuji, Prussian blue. (From 36 Views of Mount Fuji. Masterpiece of ukiyo-e genre.)
Ejiri in Suruga Province. Dramatic gust of wind. Travellers cling to belongings. Fuji unmoved. (Father glance from exhibit to caption.)
Clear day with a southern breeze. Fuji red in sun under mackerel sky. Foothills in shadow. (Son study picture. Colour and form.)
Snowy morning, Koishikawa. Customers gather at restaurant window to view mountain. Birds in sky. Fuji white with snow. (Visitors snake through exhibition like dragon.)
'Hokusai make you cry out. Waves are claws. Boat caught. You can feel it!'|
Van Gogh say that. Sell one painting. Whole life.
Great Wave off Kanagawa. Main attraction. Star of show. Money shot.
Hokusai make one print. Sell 8000 copies. Price, double portion of noodles. Do math.
Great Wave wallpaper in daughter's bedroom. £36 a square metre. Hokusai fan. Wannabe artist.
Under wave, crazy fishermen in origami boats.
First boat, marriage. Survive great wave of divorce.
Second boat, business. Survive financial crash.
Third great wave drown heart. Origami boat perish. Tsunami of sorrow.
Who look after, when old?
Katsushika Hokusai. Man of many names ... Shunrō ... Iitsu ... Manji.|
When young, wow Tokyo festival crowds. Performance painting of Buddhist priest. Broom and buckets of ink. Paper big as tennis court.
Summoned by Shogun. Paint blue curve. Produce live chicken. Dip feet in red ink. Chase across paper. Autumn Leaves on Tatsuta River.
Artist say all he draw by 70 of no account. At 73 grasp structure of birds and fishes. Insects and grasses. Maybe at 100, become marvellous. When 110, each dot and line alive!
Fire destroy studio. Hokusai struggle. Never stop painting. Improve with age.
Atrophy ... Entropy ... Mortality...
Secret friends stroll in sunshine. Detective tail in shadow. Undergraduate. English and American Literature. Wannabe poet.|
Enter Holborn station. Touch Oyster. Descend to platform. Westbound Central Line. Doors close. Train move.
Tottenham Court Road. Son touch father's arm. Stand to leave. Unexpected separation. Moment of panic. Who to follow? Remain seated. Doors close. Train move.
Oxford Circus. Old man rise. Hint of smile? Maybe. Remain seated. Poet, not stalker. Doors close. No wave goodbye.
Miss my daughter.
'If only heaven give her another ten years ... just five more ... then I could become a real father.'
Train move. End of story.
History and Explanation
A poetic homage to the Japanese painter Hokusai, recalling a walk by Father and Son through London in August 2017, observed by an anonymous sleuth.
The form or discipline is based predominately on Japanese Haiku but is also influenced by the Shakespearean Sonnet.
It is divided into ten sections, representing paintings in an art exibition or ten waves of an incoming tide.
Each section or scene, contains exactly 100 words, combining into the desired total of 1000.
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