Stephen Pollock

Leaves For Shinayo Matsumoto At ninety-one, she still liked to arrange things just so,kept her possessions in tidy boxes,some engraved with Asian motifsdragonflies, exotic birds,and leaves of bamboo. And how she loved her sumo!To watch, on the Japanese channel,rikishi ten times her sizecolliding like forces of naturefilled her with a sense of nostalgiaand possibility. She was the venerable priestess of tea.In the autumn of her age,faithful to the ritualsof a dying art,she distilled from the parched leavesthis pure nectar,green as youth. Flowers found perfection in her hands,wrinkled hands, with fingers like twigs.Once, perhaps, as she trimmed the leaves,she remembered a time when shewas that perfect flower,blooming in her kimonoof peach and green. Her family arrangeda simple Buddhist ceremony.In late November, the treeswere mostly bare.But across the lawn, beyondthe small gathering and the somber stones,the leaves all danced in the air. Stephen Pollock received the Rolfe Humphries Poetry Prize in his senior year at Amherst College. His poem “Syringe” was shortlisted for the 2018 Live Canon International Poetry Prize and was performed as part of the awards ceremony at the Greenwich Theatre in London. Subsequently, his poem “song for us” appeared in the Poeming Pigeon, and his poem “Steel Refineries — Gary, 1954” was published in Ink to Paper.