: Shiba Onko :

an excerpt by John Witte


Then the youngest       gazing

into a porcelain urn      astir with koi

fell in      and was trapped      his friends cried

and tore at their clothes      I'm telling this story

for you      Leo

swimming alone      at night

in the reservoir      one of the boys returned

with a stone      and hurled it      with all his strength

shattering the urn       the water broke       over him

and the dying boy      who cannot be

told apart      from the hero

lay gasping       saved