Sharing: “And Your Soul Shall Dance” by Garrett Kaoru Hongo

And Your Soul Shall Dance

 

Walking to school beside fields

of tomatoes and summer squash,

alone and humming a Japanese love song,

you’ve concealed a copy of Photoplay

between your algebra and English texts.

Your knee socks, saddle shoes, plaid dress,

and blouse, long-sleeved and white

with ruffles down the front,

come from a Sears catalogue

and neatly compliment your new Toni curls.

All of this sets you apart from the landscape:

flat valley grooved with irrigation ditches,

a tractor grinding through alkaline earth,

the short stands of windbreak eucalyptus

shuttering the desert wind

from a small cluster of wooden shacks

where your mother hangs the wash.

You want to go somewhere.

Somewhere far away from all that dust

and sorting machines and acres of lettuce.

Someplace where you might be kissed

by someone with smooth, artistic hands.

When you turn into the schoolyard,

the flagpole gleams like a knife blade in the sun,

and classmates scatter like chickens,

shooed by the storm brooding on your horizon.

 

Garrett Kaoru Hongo (1982, p.69)

Sharing: “Dark August” by Derek Walcott

Dark August

So much rain, so much life like the swollen sky
of this black August. My sister, the sun,
broods in her yellow room and won’t come out.

Everything goes to hell; the mountains fume
like a kettle, rivers overrun; still,
she will not rise and turn off the rain.

She is in her room, fondling old things,
my poems, turning her album. Even if thunder falls
like a crash of plates from the sky,

she does not come out.
Don’t you know I love you but am hopeless
at fixing the rain ? But I am learning slowly

to love the dark days, the steaming hills,
the air with gossiping mosquitoes,
and to sip the medicine of bitterness,

so that when you emerge, my sister,
parting the beads of the rain,
with your forehead of flowers and eyes of forgiveness,

all will not be as it was, but it will be true
(you see they will not let me love
as I want), because, my sister, then

I would have learnt to love black days like bright ones,
The black rain, the white hills, when once
I loved only my happiness and you.

Derek Walcott

Fall in the Long White Cloud

It’s a wet kind of cold, the kind that still allows things to grow.  The cloudy sky and diffused light makes the green of the plants more striking and they glisten with the drops of rain.  Actually, the rain doesn’t quite drop.  The air is so thick with water that it falls in a mist, mot even heavy enough to be a drizzle.  It makes me feel like I am walking through a long, white cloud, as if I am so far above the earth that I am inside the sky.  Only the moss reminds me that I am at sea level.

The tree outside my window has been dying all summer, but now, in the cold of the autumn rain it has begun again to grow.  It also seems confused by these antipodean seasons.  It lost its leaves in the shining sun of the summer drought, and now that it’s fall, it’s sprouting new life.

The koru seem unsure about whether or not to open.  I am sure I’ve seen the ferny tendrils on my path tentatively stretch open, and now they’ve closed again, as if pulling back from the abrupt, damp, winter.  Their spiral fractals seem to contract and breathe, opening timidly and closing again.

It’s on days like this I long to be outside, to feel the growth and life.  The plants and ground feel full with the potential that the rain brings, bursting with possibility and expectant growth.  I want that potential, that possibility, that growth.

 

 

This is a little birthday present from New Zealand for my awesome, amazing, inspiring cousin, Janelle.  

 

Also, Kiwi Creative Commons love to Brenda Anderson for the photo.  Thanks so much!

Making Love to Clouds

I did not flinch when I saw her, though I knew she expected it.  My face did not mirror hers, eyes pulled wide, lips forced apart by the sharp intake of breath she could not control,  brow clenched upwards by a mind which could not believe.

A small breath of air made its way from my lungs, but my lips could not form her name.

Her eyes moved away from mine to the ground.  She did not want me to see her this way, I knew, and she would rather have never seen me at all than to meet me like this.

Her hair, which I had never seen down in all our years together, even through sleep and childbirth, fell in front of her face, intentionally hiding it.  In the darkness, it was hard to tell the two apart, now that the night of her straight hair had spread down the length of her body.  It was the blackness of her face from which I could not take my eyes.  Not the decay of her skin, crawling into strange formations as it fell from her flesh, nor the worms escaping from within her and being more eager to return to her to feast, but the pure tar of her face.  It had been one of her more powerful features, lighting the sky with its whiteness, its power making men run for cover.

“Do not look on me,” her words were loud, quick.  I wondered if she knew I had been chasing the young nymph which had just passed her, giggling melodically, curls and young breasts bouncing teasingly around the corner.  I wondered if it had been long enough since her death, or if it ever would be.

“I miss looking on you,” I offered.

She scoffed under her breath.  I could hear the tightening of her hard face through the darkness.  It was a sound I had not forgotten.

She crossed her arms, jagged elbows sending small bolts of lightning at the ground.  In the light, I could see a cockroach on the ground, near her dirty, bare feet.  It was the first time I understood her shame in being seen in the underworld.  Her usually tidy, glowing dress looked like what a peasant mortal would wear.  Instead of her usual shining shoes, her small, sharp feet, were caked in dirt, and being eaten.  I wondered if it was difficult for her to walk with the same poise that she had always carried.

“Please,” I said, knowing she would notice that my voice was not that of a god, but of a mole.  It did not happen often, but I knew she always noticed when I lost my composure.   “We will never see each other again.  We are lucky for just this moment.  Please, just look at me.”

“I-”  It was not often that she stuttered.  Her uneasiness grew to fill the small confines of the underground cave in which we stood.

Maybe she also feels as if it were my fault.

Perhaps she did not recall her last days, after the birth of the fire.  The way she screamed as the flames came forth from her womb burned my insides also.  The tears that sparked her electric face for days afterwards as she whimpered in pain each stung me as well. And I could no longer live forever when her immortality was taken away.

“I am not the same,” she said, her voice beginning to crack.  I knew she would not cry.  I struggled in the darkness to see better the prickly lines of her long body and face, the points of her nose, chin, and hips.

“I know,” I said.  I still missed looking on her.

   He did not know. 

            I could see his misty face, churning with emotions — for me!  If he knew, he would not be taking the time to steal a few moments with me before his return home.

            He moved towards me and I was within his arm’s reach.  I moved away.

            “I know,” he repeated, taking a small, determined step forward. 

            That was the moment when the memories flew past me and I was forced to turn and look at the decaying wall.  This gave my unruly mind free reign in recalling my memories, but at least I did not look at his face. 

            The tree came back to me first, but I knew that did not mean I loved him more.  The nights I had stolen away with the tree in a forced, hushed passion were just easiest to remember — there had been so few.  Always after dark.  Embracing without kissing.  A dainty removal of his own splinters.  All so the clouds could detect no signs when I returned home.  The splinters were my favorite part, even then.

            But there were more nights — since the beginning of time, in fact — with the clouds.  After all, what is lightning without clouds, or clouds without lightning?  The best nights were always the ones spent over tropical islands — hurricanes and our children, the thunder, the rain, and the tornado, were all conceived from the swirls of our passion on nights like those.

            So, when I first realized that I was having the fire child, I stopped seeing the tree.  I had no doubts about who fathered it.  But, then again, neither did the clouds.  Perhaps that was the most painful part of the ordeal:  the clouds trusted me so much that he was sure the child was his.

            “I am sorry,” he tried.  I knew he was fumbling for words, and it made me want him to hold me.

            “I am as well.”  But I stayed cold.  Who would want to hold a sack of maggots?

            “If I had known what would happen –“

            “You should not apologize.”

            “It was my fault,” he said.

            “It was not your fault,” I insisted, my voice rising with tension.

            “I should not have–” he stopped.

            I could hear him turn, his arm brushing chunks of dirt off the crumbling wall, and return the way he had come.

 

 

 

 

 

Creative Commons Love to Liamfm on flickr.  Thank you!