of a single lotus

and its seedpods


silk sheets

gardenia on the bed stand

unfolds its petals


cupping a firefly

I feel its light tremble

against my palm


on the scroll painting

“all water contains the moon”

I raise the tea bowl


tea ceremony

the last drop from the ladle

drips from the eaves


searching for what

ant in the stone garden

climbing up, climbing down


the tree I planted

not mine—

day by day

twigs turn into nest

eggs into fledglings


all day I watch

the rain come and go

come and go—

daffodils turn their faces

towards tomorrow’s sun


once best friends

almost as close as lovers

now, like smoke

from a burning house

clouds take over the sky


how many years

have I spent

crushing herbs

trying to find

the perfect fragrance


these lilacs

so fragrant when we met

now dry as dust

I pick the last blossom

and wear it in my hair


once I gathered

dandelion flowers

for a spring bouquet

now I boil their jagged leaves

and drink their bitter tonic






Daffodils at Twilight

By Margaret Chula

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MARGARET CHULA lived in Japan for twelve years where she taught English and creative writing at universities in Kyoto. Her books include Grinding my ink (Haiku Society of America Book Award); This Moment; Shadow Lines (with Rich Youmans); Always Filling, Always Full; The Smell of Rust; Just This; and most recently, Daffodils at Twilight. Her collection What Remains: Japanese Americans in Internment Camps, a seven-year collaboration with quilt artist Cathy Erickson, features poems in the voices of Japanese Americans interned during World War II. She has published poems in Prairie Schooner, Kyoto Journal, Poet Lore, America’s Review, and Runes, as well as in numerous haiku journals around the world. One of her haiku appears on Itoen tea bottles sold in stores and vending machines throughout Japan. Her one-woman performance of Japanese women poets (“Three Women Who Loved Love”), premiered in Krakow, Poland in 2003 and toured to Canada, Japan, and the U.S.

Margaret lives in Portland, Oregon, where she continues to teach and give workshops at universities, poetry societies and Zen centers.




A writer’s purpose is to say the unsayable.
To put into words what we feel, experience, and yearn for,
our continual search for that which is always just beyond us.

It is the courage to say what others have been unwilling
or afraid to acknowledge. It’s the voice of a child, speaking truth
through the experience of discovery.

And if we remain open to the abundance of this universe
moments of inspiration will come unbidden:
the book that falls off the shelf into our hands
the dream that calls forth the Muse at dawn
a palette of words that moves and shifts
into the kaleidoscope of creation
once we let go.

Writing is a catharsis, a way to explore the darkness within and around me. It’s what I turn to in order to make sense out of chaos. It’s also a way to preserve the joyous and transformative moments of life. I began writing as soon as I could form words with a pencil. When I nearly drowned while learning to surf in France, I recorded the experience. Years later, as I sat outside watching my house burn, I composed haiku. After our first grand-daughter was born, I celebrated the occasion with a poem. And, like Japanese poets, when I leave this world, I hope to have a death poem on my lips.