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Marly Youmans

Lady Ise

poet and musician in the Japanese court,
concubine of Emperor Uda and lover of poet-prince Atsuyoshi,
mother to a prince and a poet (c. 875-c. 938).

After you fled away to death,
I met you in my dreams—
In no man's land, with cataracts
Of darkness in between.
But now you never come to me,
You never seek my face—
Because the years have changed it so
And stripped my beauty's grace.
That must be why I strive in sleep
To chase another form—
These hints and glimmerings of light
Like clearing after storm.
"Hidden immortal, whose garment
Has no break or seam,"
Engulf me like a waterfall
Of everlasting dream.

—Marly Youmans

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