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Japan

 Today I pass the time reading
a favorite haiku,
saying the few words over and over.
It feels like eating the same small, perfect grape again and again.
I walk through the house reciting it and leave its letters falling through the air of every room.
I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it.
I say it in front of a painting of the sea.
I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.
I listen to myself saying it, then I say it without listening, then I hear it without saying it.
And when the dog looks up at me, I kneel down on the floor and whisper it into each of his long white ears.
It's the one about the one-ton temple bell with the moth sleeping on its surface, and every time I say it, I feel the excruciating pressure of the moth on the surface of the iron bell.
When I say it at the window, the bell is the world and I am the moth resting there.
When I say it at the mirror, I am the heavy bell and the moth is life with its papery wings.
And later, when I say it to you in the dark, you are the bell, and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you, and the moth has flown from its line and moves like a hinge in the air above our bed.

by Billy Collins
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