Beyond The Sky


Beyond the sky there is another sky
and beyond that sky there is another.
However far you go, there’s only sky.
A cloud in the shape of a boat
is floating in the sky, but
the sky has no harbor where it can anchor.
How far does it travel, I wonder.
On this side of the sky there is another sky,
and on this side of that sky there is another —
it seems to come down to us from time to time.
Sunflowers touch the sky.
Dragonflies touch it, too, with their wings.
I am lying on my back in the field
touching the sky with the tip of my nose.
                                                               Kazue Shinkawa ~ translation by Takako Lento


Comments always are welcome. For more on poet Kazue Shinkawa, click here.


46 thoughts on “Beyond The Sky

  1. Lovely reflection on what is always above us. It is there at night and all during the day, all the days of our lives and it keeps us well, for without the sky we could not exist.

    1. It keeps some of us looking up, too. Best of all, it’s always changing. I think that’s part of the appeal of watching fire, ocean waves, or clouds. They’re always the same, yet always different.

  2. Such a beautiful combination. I’m going to find out more about this poet, thank you Linda for the introduction.
    That sky really is amazing. It could almost be goldfish swimming in it.

    1. Goldfish! What a wonderful image that is. I can’t remember ever seeing something quite like these clouds. They certainly are proof that sky delights don’t have to be grand and towering, or wildly saturated with color. These were among a very few clouds in an otherwise clear sky. Only some clouds at the horizon allowed the setting sun to illuminate them in different ways.

  3. That’s a jaunty juxtaposition of blue and orange (the colors of the two-tone police cars in the county I grew up in on Long Island).

    Did the musician in you read the poem lento, slowly?

    1. Was that Nassau County? I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around orange and blue on police cars, but if they were as spiffy then as they are now, I’m all in favor.

      I did read the poem lento, at least in part because various images kept stopping me. “Sunflowers touch the sky” reminded me of your recent photo, which could have paired with the poem equally well.

        1. Oh, my gosh. For some reason, I have this sudden urge to watch Smokey and the Bandit or The Blues Brothers. That police car is something to behold. The use of sequential lights rather than a beacon’s pretty cool, too. You’d certainly have a better chance of spotting the constable on patrol than we do with today’s models.

  4. The photo and poem are both lovely
    Sometimes when you see the big cumulonimbus clouds sailing by, they do give the impression of a towering ship under sail, a Flying Dutchman thunderhead

    1. I just passed an enjoyable few minutes refreshing my memory of the tale(s) of The Flying Dutchman Ghost ships do have their appeal, even when more reasonable explanations are available. Of course, seafarers are a superstitious lot, determined to put silver coins under the mast step, to refuse to rename boats, and (oh, horrors!) to never allow a banana on board.

      One thing’s for sure. If you see a series of Flying Dutchman thunderheads at sea, you’d be glad to have them dissolve into nothingness before your eyes. Well, unless you were short on water and needed rain.

      1. I don’t know anything about ships, and wasn’t sure if you were teasing about the bananas, but see that you weren’t! I was wondering, what would a banana boat do, but I see that it’s taboo for fishing boats.
        I don’t know if they still go in there, but when my parents were young, banana boats docked all the time in Albany, NY. It’s a good place to load stuff onto trains or trucks – – over 100 miles inland from NYC, but still 30′ deep. I love bananas, but I’ll remember not to take them on fishing trips!

        1. There even are sailors who refuse to have the things around. Fishing is fishing, even if you’re dragging a line behind a sailboat. I listen to a hunting and fishing show that comes on early mornings here, and I once heard quite a discussion about boats and bananas. One of the captains involved suggested he just might toss a banana-laden crew member overboard. He probably wouldn’t, but it was entertaining listening.

          However: I learned to calculate a sailboat’s speed through the water using a banana peel. Drop it from the bow, then time its transit to the stern. Knowing time and distance (the boat length), you can get speed. That’s the day algebra came alive for me.

  5. Delightful. I love the concept of the limitless sky, with no place for a cloud boat to anchor, yet it’s close enough for a nose to touch. Did you lie on the ground to take this photo?

    1. No need for ground-lying with sky photos, although flowers-against-sky sometimes require a little more in the way of flexibility.

      When I think of nose-touching, I always think of Dixie Rose. She didn’t lap sit, or do much purring, or rub against ankles, but she often came over and asked for a nose-touch from my finger. It took me a couple of years to figure out what she wanted, but once I got it right, all was well.

    1. Here’s a surprise: Kazue Shinkawa is a she. As a matter of fact, she was quite influential in the development of women’s poetry in Japan. I hadn’t come across her work until recently, but there’s much there to enjoy.

      And aren’t those cloud layers something? There’s no predicting what any given evening will produce — or morning, for that matter. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

    1. Shall we go sailing with them? I have a friend who thinks there would be nothing better than being able to fly. Sometimes, for fun, I call her Peter Pan, and she laughs.

    1. I’m often impressed by the sunsets down here, but this one surprised me. I’m not accustomed to seeing such intense color in such delicate clouds. I laughed when you called them floaters. Maybe that’s what they were: floaters in the “eye” of the sky.

      I do like the sky behind sky behind sky imagery. Maybe each layer of clouds is attached to a different layer of sky.

    1. Sometimes the sky resembles a lava lamp, with the colors flowing and melding into one another. It’s always the same lamp, but never precisely the same combination.

    1. That’s part of their charm, and the reason they’re so compelling. There’s no TIVO for sunsets — and no re-runs. Thank goodness for that. I suppose that, in a sense, photos allow us to reexperience them, but we know that we’re looking at a representation of something that never will appear again. It’s really quite wonderful.

  6. I love the little orange and pink accumulation of cumulus cloudlets against the long mare’s tail of the cirrus clouds. “Mares’ tails and mackerel scales make lofty ships to carry low sails.”

    1. I mentioned mackerel skies to someone last night. It’s sad to me that kids today not only don’t know such useful weather tips, many of them don’t know what a mare or a mackerel might be. More time touching noses with the sky might be a start down a better path.

  7. What’s fascinating about the sky above us is its changeability. The grass doesn’t change much; the trees only do to mark the changing seasons. But the sky is a kaleidoscope, an ever-evolving feast for the eyes! No wonder some of us still love lying on our backs and sticking our noses in the sky!!

    1. My thoughts exactly, Debbie. In fact, I think ‘kaleidoscope’ is a good metaphor. The pieces all are there, but each day twists and turns them a little differently — to our delight.

      I will say the thought of the sky coming down to be nose to nose with us was a new one to me. Watching clouds as a kid, they always seemed far away. But this poet brings the clouds and sky close, like a favorite pet.

  8. The creaking gate half unhinged
    Buster, the sheep-dog seen it all
    is seeps the spirit, makes hard going
    where’s the rain?

    The clouds are here, beckoning
    they whiten the sky all grey
    Drops are spitting hope
    stop sighing of despair

    It might just rain again.

    1. Well, that’s a different kind of sky. Given the drought conditions you’ve been enduring, I can certainly appreciate your description of it. Maybe that rain-laden sky is the sky behind the sky behind the sky the poet suggests — I certainly hope so!

  9. Just lovely.
    Makes me think of a quote (in my Favourite Quotes folder)….

    A finger points at the moon, but the moon is not at the tip of the finger. Words point at the truth, but the truth is not in words.

    1. What a lovely quotation — and so true. You’ve reminded me that babies will reach for the moon. It’s only later that we come to terms with the fact that we can’t grasp it literally — but metaphorically does quite nicely, sometimes.

    1. I thought the heat had gotten to you, but I see you’re right: lows in the upper 70s. That’s almost poke-your-nose-outside weather: not quite enjoyable yet, but tolerable’s good. It does look as though we’ll be getting those “other skies” for a while, with plenty of rain in the forecast. I’ll settle for that, too. Gray can be as pretty as pink.

  10. When I fly back to the usa, the streaked skies always get my attention.

    Today the skies here were absolutely cloudless, and the blues were so very blue and soothing.. but the heat – oh my, it turned into a scorcher.
    it’s always nice to see what’s happening ‘up there’ via your lovely images!

    1. We’ve had wonderful rain the past couple of days — not all day, and not flooding, but a half-inch here and a half-inch there. In between, there have been wonderful, towering cumulus. It’s the summer skies we’ve missed all year, and it’s nice to see them. Those pure blue skies often mean high pressure and heat here, too — these clouds mean tropical moisture. We’ll hope that we continue to get rain without a name!

  11. Beautiful poem and image. The poem is really interesting in that it cleverly brings forth that analogy between space and time. “How far does it travel, I wonder”, she says…

    1. I like the skillful way she uses ‘this’ and ‘that,’ as well. She creates sliding panels of sky — almost like the false ceilings that are used in large spaces to create a sense of intimacy.

    1. As I browsed through her poems, I was struck by their similarity to some Japanese architecture, and even to bonsai. That may be related to you comment about her playing with scale. I’ve never considered the possibility of ‘bonsai poetry’ but if it exists, I think it might be found within her work.

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