Lake Biwa, the largest in Japan,
lurks unnoticed in the background.
I watch men drop buckets down a well
to water oxen harnessed to bales
bundled onto pairs of wheels as tall
as the draymen waving little sticks.
Then I enter the shop that sells Otsu-e,
folk pictures sketched locally.
They depict draymen leading oxen
to the well, and some include me
in the background, my western clothes
a humorous distraction from
the workday world too busy
to enjoy a dip in the lake.
William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent book is A Black River, A Dark Fall.