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Onsen

Is there a world beyond
this cascade-cleaved
red-mapled valley
with steam
clouded pools?

Monkeys bathe here.
But today it's just us:
investment analyst,
fund manager
and stockbroker,

disembodied heads
wearing crowns of
white hand towels,
far from the hurly-
burly of markets,

weightless, at one
with blistering water,
it's best to lie still,
to be no-one: just
a maple leaf, a rock.

Later in new-born skin
and cool yukatas
we drink ice-cold kirin
in the old ryokan
and laugh helplessly

at the chef who studies
in the off-duty calm
of the afternoon
Tooshi Radar charts
of Japanese share prices.

Notes:
Onsen: a Japanese hot spring resort.
Ryokan: a country inn.
Yukata: a light summer kimono.
Kirin: a Japanese beer.
Tooshi Radar: Japanese share price charts, published each week and studied by professional and amateur investors - even chefs in hot spring resorts far from Tokyo! - during the time of Japan's period of strong economic growth and soaring stockmarket, the so-called 'bubble economy', when the poem was written.
The poem is dedicated to Iain Little and David Fuller.

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