Lost and Found


for Diethard and Waltraud Leopold

Only a yellow water tank
stained with rain smears and some rust
on a flat apartment roof -
it stares at you from roof to room;
and far too near to have perspective,
you could think this yellow tank
a punch in the eye or personal affront
as it shifts above the breakfast table.

Glimpsed through dwarf palm fingers
on your balcony, the thing can seem
a beach resort accessory
or ready-made in an art museum:
its service ladder and overflow
have elegant hooks like croziers,
raised rabbits to imply a joke,
philosophers' scare-marks or sows' ears.

Not funny, a memory of sunlight
throughout the rainy season,
it penetrates our mist-filled mornings,
reconciles three elements;
I've seen it graced by cloudless nights,
full moons, and briefly perching crows;
against the hillside's heaving pines
the yellow tank is all repose.

Rather than melting snowy ranges,
nippled hills, golf nets, rooftiles,
afforestation, or glimpse of ocean,
maybe you prefer this tank;
as with a disaffected child,
photograph, make fusses of it,
until the yellow water tank blesses,
answers us back with words.

Inspired by Diethard Leopold's photographs and slides of the yellow tank. Written in Yagiyama, Sendai, spring or early summer 1991.

Published in :
  • Printed Matter vol. 15 no. 4, 1991
  • Scripsi vol. 8 no. 2, 1992
  • The Times Literary Supplement no. 4732, 1993
Included in :