Buddhist temple, Tokyo
One cry from a lone bird over a misted river
is the expression of grief,
in Japanese. Let women
do what they need.
And afterwards knit a red cap, pray—
In long rows, stone children in bibs and hats, the smell of pine and cooled
It was a temple
for the babied dead. I found it via the Internet.
Where they offered pinwheels
and bags of sweets
for the aborted ones, or ones who'd lived
but not enough…
Moss-smell, I can project there.
pinking the water.
When her lord asked her again how it died, she said
As an echo off the cliffs of Kegon.
ukiyo: in Japanese it sounds like "Sorrowful World"
winds trying to hold each other
in silken robes
what in English sounds like "Floating World"
a joke on the six realms in which we tarry
what they called the "Sorrowful World":
wheel made of winds
trying to cling to each other
A child didn’t jell until the age of seven,
in his body.
Was mizuko, water-child, what in English sounds like
He was a form of liquid life, he committed
slowly to the flesh—
and if he died or gestation stopped, he was offered
a juice box and incense sticks, apology and Hello Kitty...
In Japanese, souls spin red-n-pink
rebirth wheels: whole groves whrrrr-tik-tik behind the temple
Sad World. Pleasure World. In some minds
they sounded the same—
It was a grief aesthetic.
another lit visitor considering a tour,
before finding that it
needs to start over—
Over the misted river.
Where a banner hangs, saying,
You Are The 10,056th Person To Visit This Site
and you are the You
who keeps disembarking.
|Copyright © 2008 by Dana Levin. First appeared in Kenyon Review. Reprinted with permission of the author.|