Michio Ito’s Fox & Hawk

Ito ran to a window. He danced.
He howled. He cursed the moon,
interned in a camp before he was
carted on a ship back to Tokyo.
Hadn’t he almost died for art
the evenings he ate bread soup?
If he wished to forget those days
& nights dancing in drawing rooms
in London, or translating Fenollosa’s
notes on Noh, he’d have to unbraid
himself from At the Hawk’s Well,
& then let go of the Egyptian
mask Dulac painted him into —
claws, beak, feathers, & legend.
Why did that silly boy tell a story
about his grandmother weeping
when she first saw him dressed
in his grandfather’s samurai armor
to hold the gaze of Lady Cunard?
He was again studying the fox
holding a biscuit in his hand,
saying, “I went to a great hill
in Hampstead & I made my soul
into the soul of a fox.” Finally,
he would let go of his Europe,
& not think of those he loved
& taught, Isadora lost. Now,
powerless & alone, he dances
his ten steps again & again,
wanting to know if a hawk
could peck the eyes out of a fox.

More Poems by Yusef Komunyakaa