We are blooded on the mountain,
made brothers in the monastery.
Met in a tea-room I used to haunt,
kabuki-lashed, my fan put aside,
a player known more for dancing,
the geisha whiteness of my skin,
you chose me, at just fifteen,
shogun of Ashikaga.
I am apprentice, monk-Buddhist,
sworn to the beautiful way.
Rising at four I drink cold water.
Given by blood, I put off perfume.
In a forest house, the hidden room,
Undressing your armour, slat
by black slat, your silk beard
broken by satin lips.
A reed burns near,
a cricket chirrs in its basket.
The moon lights a pool
in the dark green shade.
A war, you whisper, very soon.
For me, a life of practising
with novice sticks in a yard -
for you, the latest campaign.
But I would rather ghost
your thoughts without that sacrifice.
To wear instead a child’s sword
wrapped in rich brocade.
To be like a pair of cats
that live in the forest,
who have never heard of
the Emperor’s rage.