Five Classical Japanese Tanka for Lovers in Pandemics

We’ll weep into sleeves
Of richly patterned brocade
Beneath the full moon.
As the cherry blossoms fall,
Just don’t sneeze on me, okay?

Behind paper screens
You are barely visible.
It’s not a bad thing—
Distance will inflame desire.
No, really, stay over there.

The warbler wakes us.
As you dress, I ink a poem:
Love’s color may fade,
But I won’t forget the one
Who leaves hand sanitizer.

Sheltering in place,
We play the koto for days.
I’ll self-isolate
In the wisteria room.
You are getting on my nerves.

Summer irises . . .
Tweeting like the nightingale,
Our emperor claims
This warmth will banish the plague
Caused by Mongols or Chinese.

Copyright © Cynthia Gralla, 2020