“KONNICHIWA,” HE WHISPERS/Hamarikyu Gardens in Tokyo, Japan/Apathy

On a gnarled bench,
Old man sits forever.
“Konnichiwa,” he whispers.

—–

On an illusory hill,
Of an unknown age,
The bench engulfs my weariness.

I gaze out upon the lush garden —
An ethereal green —
Pierced with sacrosanct, ancient matsus — Naru-Kami and Susanoo,
Laced in rocks,
Ligamented with bridges.

A paradise lifted from a wood block print,
An ancient escape:
A blinding perfection

Metal rectangles stretch towards the sky;
They are stoic, they belong here.
They are persistent. They are forever.

They create a dichotomy:
A man-made garden, a man-made city.

I gaze upon Shiori-no-ike.
So still.
So glassy.
I could glide across it.

I gaze upon the ancient teahouse,
Suspended upon the silent water.
Who has sipped her teas
Who has inhaled her holy scent of pine?

I think a god made the teahouse float —
I think a god let the teahouse float like a toy boat, in a bathtub.

Then, with a pinch of his transparent, gnarled fingers,
— He froze it.
On the tiny island of Nakajima.

I gaze upon these holy gardens:
perfection, lifted from a wood block print:

A centuries old teahouse,
Forever on a tiny island,
On a mirror pond,
In Hamarikyu

A secret hill in plain sight,
Surrounded by looming skyscrapers,
Encased in the patchwork streets of Tokyo.

The sage old man next to me matches my breath
I rub the gnarled bench and it comforts me

We are introduced formally,
Finally, I have found you:

peace.

—–

On an illusory hill
Of an unknown age
The bench engulfs my weariness

I gaze out upon the lush garden —
An ethereal green —
Pierced with sacrosanct, ancient matsus — Naru-Kami and Susanoo,
Laced in rocks,
Ligamented with bridges.
(Our paradise)

A paradise lifted from a wood block print,
An ancient escape:
A blinding perfection

Metal rectangles stretch towards the sky;
They are stoic, they belong here.
They are persistent. They are forever.
(Are you not stoic?)

They create a dichotomy:
A man-made garden, a man-made city.
(Are we are not a dichotomy?)

I gaze upon Shiori-no-ike.
So still.
So glassy.
I (we) could stride across it
(Can I say — hand in hand?)

I gaze upon the ancient teahouse
Suspended upon the whispering water
Who has sipped her teas
And inhaled her scent of pine?
(How many have inhaled you?)

I wish I could take a photograph of your frozen laugh,
As clear as the one constantly created by my neurons,

Your words bounce in my skull, as they always have.
They bang my sternum, breaking it.
They reverb in my throat.
They pinprick my eyes.
They are a teabag steeped in tears.

Lo, they have been left out too long
They are dripping with muck.
They are crusty,
They are swollen —
I ice them away.

Are they evaporating?
Are they floating away in a neon pink cartoon cloud —
Bold against the ethereal green grass?

Are they with me forever, like a discolored patch of skin?
Are they branded on my the dull air pocket in my chest?

Shall I dash around this garden-park?
Shall I roll down this hill and laugh?
Like a fool, shall I keep imagining you here with me?

Shall I keep trying to forget your words?
Shall I lie down here and nap them away?
Shall I grasp at my temples?
Shall I write them?
Shall I write a poem to make myself feel better?
Shall I write a poem to make myself feel better?
Shall I write a poem to make myself feel better?

Shall I scream at the old man?
Shall I jump atop this bench?
Shall I jump atop this bench and shout your words to all of Tokyo?!

I calmly arise, bow to the old man, and jovially bounce down each of the hill’s stone.
I smile and pose for my dad’s picture.

I regret that that is the only picture I have of that hill.
A forced pose is not the memory I want of it.

I almost take another picture of it.
My deltoid twitches with the intention.

I merely look back at that hill – that majestic oka.

No, I will never forget that grating cordiality in my tone.
No, I will never forget how I felt when I saw her.

I step forward and behold the pines.
I step forward again and I hear his apathy a little less loudly.

[June 2013]

[Spanish Version]

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