She wants to feel 日本 (Japan)

Hair black as midnight,
Kimono sleeves whispering of plum;
Haiku she breathes to me
Beneath the yellow moon.

She says I need to see Tokyo,
And Kyoto in the rain.
I say, "I’ll go if you’re there—"
I’ll say anything.

She draws pictures of Mount Fuji
In charcoal, and puts them
All over the house,
Knowing I’ll see them

And remember the color of the mist,
And the smell of incense
When I sat on her tatami mat
And drank her tea.

I gave her a bonsai tree;
Now I hear crickets in the house
And I know she brought them in;
She wants to feel Japan.

She planted a Cherry tree in the garden,
And sits in a lawn chair,
Staring at the ground,
Measuring the time until

She can smell the blossoms.
I know she longs for home,
For Matsuhashi temple,
For the bells and the Buddha,

For her mother and grandmother
And siblings by the barrel
Living together, bathing as one,
Sharing so much space.

She tells me about Kabuki
And her favorite Aragoto character;
How he is so witty, and stomps on the stage
Making the lights vibrate.

Sometimes she puts on her makeup
And dances around the room.
But when she says, “I love you,”
I know she wants to feel Japan.


◄ Yima

The Fine Guilt of Physics ►


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Chris Laverty

Tue 17th Jan 2017 23:31

excellent poem, its moving and has great details in it; deeply felt but restrained.

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Randall Eckstein

Thu 12th Jan 2017 23:48

Thank you all. Cynthia, I suppose you could call this a study. In my youth, we had a very long succession of Japanese exchange students living in our home. They taught me a lot about Japanese culture and customs (and language). I wrote this in my early twenties, and then went on to become a teacher, hoping to teach in Japan. Fate, however, sent me to China where I have been living and teaching for the past 13 years.

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Hazel ettridge

Thu 12th Jan 2017 16:19

I love it. Provides space for the reader to have their own experience.

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Thu 12th Jan 2017 16:12

Full of charm and intimacy, highlighting many aspects of Japanese culture with great sympathy.

And yet, this seems almost a 'study', and I wonder whether you are writing from personal experience or an imaginative composing of 'ideas about Japan.'

Either way, it is a lovely piece. I had the privilege of living in Tokyo for six weeks many years ago. The experience enriched my life.

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Stu Buck

Thu 12th Jan 2017 16:01

this is simply wonderful. its soft and delicate, almost as if it was written in blossom. it deals really well with yearning, is stuffed full of lovely details and speaks to me because i have a special affinity with japan, especially the longing to be there, amongst the culture that surrounded me in my youth (i wrote my dissertation on japanese cinema and was generally obsessed with every form of japanese culture for about a decade). a great piece of writing.

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