Helena Minton

Overnight War

(A Golden Shovel)

Young men march away–

the mountain greenness

is at its peak

Santoka Taneda (1882-1940; tr. John Stevens)


Crowds walk down the narrow road, young

mothers and their children, hand-in-hand. Men

stay behind, prepare to march,

armed, into the capital while their families take away

valises, toys across the border into the

neighboring country, on the other side of the mountain.

The soldiers believe they are camouflaged in greenness.

The valley they descend into is

full of stones and mud. At

the river the phalanx advances towards its

target, into artillery at the battle’s peak.