At twilight by a low stone wall,
a small boy in pyjamas holds a glass box
full of fireflies, points to his father
swinging a net in wild choerography
in the ricefield under the roard.
He lifts the glowing cube to the faces
of the strange couple who pass by,
skips away with delight.
From their guesthouse the man sketches
the scene across the water, the woman reads
ghost stories by Lafcadio Hearn.
Beneath the veranda the sea pulses
its ostinato, laps the moored boats,
the harbour wall.
In a bar in Kyoto she sips at the edges of a man’s elliptic eyes. He draws her to a love hotel and says, “I want to take you somewhere special” as he closes the door behind them. Hairless skin smooth to touch. The Karaoke machine silent.
Somewhere in the empty streets the slow roll of a shutter sounds the beginning of a new day. Outside, they pass a woman showering her potted plants in the early morning sun. Soothing trickle of water.
They enter a small cemetery en route, visit his ancestral graves––a miniature high rise city for the dead. Smoking incense heady in the cool air.
In an old Kyoto’s coffee house their hands brush lightly, soft as an exhalation of breath.
on her young pale face
she rubs nightingale droppings
winter turns to spring
THE ROUTE HOME
I pass the Police Box, walk
through the gates of Zoshigaya
Cemetery, take the path for home.
An old woman makes her way
through graves, her back bent,
flowers in a pail of water, a bundle
of smoking incense in her hand.
Inside parked cars on the tree lined avenue
salary men sleep. Boys loiter with fireworks,
a dog strains at its leash, a women jogs by.
Between two grave stones a line of washing
sags in the warm evening air.
Carrying a suitcase
through the night,
reaches Kyoto by noon.
At her house
he climbs the stairs
two by two
In her room,
– a quilt for her bed.
Through a crack in the shutter
a sunbeam catches a rip in the tatami
in the empty room,
its interior stripped of its treasures
–––fusuma, shoji, tokonoma,
the sasanqua and the maple tree from the garden
transplanted to a communal park in the suburbs,
the stone lantern returned to the mountains.
Soon the bulldozers will flatten the ceder wood frame,
smash the soft grey roof tiles, bury all trace
of your touch beneath the rubble.
For one last time you slide the door along its track,
turn the key in the lock.