Kuroi to Suzume

Today is Tuesday Platform at Real Toads – we can post one poem of our choice. Rommy has told us of how she and her husband met and are celebrating 23 years of marriage! She is asking what interests drew us to our lovers/husbands/spouses/mates? I was 25 when I met my Black Dragon, my Japanese lover. He was 35 and a forensic pathologist and instructor in Kendo and kantana. I am of course interested in all things Japan and have been since I was six. I have visited Japan many times and at several points, followed in Basho’s footsteps. My lover taught me the culture, the history, the language of his country, honoring the changing seasons. We were together 10 years and visited several times his home in the mountains, Hakone, and then he returned to Japan. I did not go with him. I always thought of him as Black Dragon – kuroi ryu and myself as a sparrow beside him – suzume. This haibun is an old one and one I have shortened and reworked for future publication.  I follow the classic form which means it is non-fiction rather than made up. I hope you all enjoy.  The first full moon is of course the first full moon that appears in early spring – mangetsu no haru.


Black dragon and Sparrow

“Come, let me show you” – Indeed the spring moon was full and lit the yard Like a klieg. Although in jeans and tee shirt, he still looked lethal and royal and somehow the katana and wakazashi tucked into the makeshift obi around his waist did not look ridiculous. Hands arm and dry, he took my hand and pulled me outside into his yard – “such tiny hands you have” and he smiled his singularly sweet smile down at me. In the gravel place, between the pond for his nishikigoi and the karesansui, he pulled me. Always when he touched me, heat and electricity flowed from my heels to the top of my head, always drawing me closer to him. The song of steel as he pulled the katana clear – the sound to my ears like the sound the scales of a dragon would make as it moved across the earth.
Standing behind me his arms enclosed me and he placed the sword in my hands – like this and wrapped my hands around the hilt and now, hold it like this as he moved my arms into position and corrected my stance and how I held the sword. Move with me…awkward at first and then like magic it seemed, I was moving with him. Beneath that huge moon the black dragon and the sparrow began their dance. The moon drawing us together, warmed by each other, our breaths frosted in the cold of an early spring night. We could not move from that place. The earth held us captive as the moonlight pinned us in place. Who knew that gravity was heat and electricity? Who knew that gravity was choosing not to move, to stay suspended in one place?

spring night warmed
only by the first full moon –
tides and lovers rise

Minamikaze

Day Six of Nano-nano. or whatever it is. At Real Toads, doing the prompt thing with them.  Today the prompt is “speaking with another’s voice”.

Minamikaze
We became one the first time you held me.
I reflected your face in my surface –
We became one the first time I felt your tears.
We became one the first time I tasted your blood.
I remember that first day you pulled me from my sheath.
You wept at my beauty and then you pulled me
Against your hand and I felt your pain and tasted your blood.
I felt your wonder as you swung me through
The air and your heart beating through my handle.
I felt your love for me as you named me:
Minamikaze – South Wind
I am the gentle wind from the south,
The white dragon – the one who flies above the clouds.
I am yours as you are mine.

Battle

For Bjorn’s prompt on Real Toads – Entropy and Thermodynamics. We’ll see how I did. This is unusually long for me. It is a true story from my past and interest in all things Japanese, including a long gone lover. I’ve included a bit from The Last Samurai with the ho-hum Tom Cruise and the ever dynamic and sexy actor (and martial artist) Hiroyuki Sanada. I will also be posting this on Poets United Poetry Pantry.  Now imagine this battle with swords instead of bokken…yeppers

Battle
“Even after it all, would you dance with me again in the eye of the storm?” Dianna Hardy, Reign Of The Wolf

August…
hot stuffy steamy icky August
I am in the backyard practicing my kata…
and dripping, nay, running rivers of sweat.
“You’ll never finish if you keep stopping
to drink water and to wipe off”
I restrain myself from throwing my katana at him.
A light breeze and the strong whiff of
petrichor –
I smile…storm is coming.
A frisson of cool air brushes my skin.
I sheath my sword and run up the steps
to the back porch.
My lover puts his hand on my chest and stops me.
He was calm, I was building like the storm.
I tell him it is hot as fuckos, I was through practicing
And I.Was.Going.Inside.For.A.Shower.
He blinks slowly.
With the quickness of lightning
he pulls his sword and with a few strokes
drives me out into the now
Monsooning rain.
I pull my sword and begin fighting back,
being pushed back to the fence.
He slips on the slick fieldstones –
I put in a hard slash…And stop…horrified.
He puts his hand up to his ear,
blood running onto his white tee shirt
and dripping through his fingers.
Sonofabitch. You cut off my earlobe.
nervously I begin to laugh.
He frowns and then grabs me, begins kissing me.
There we stand in the rain
swords in our hands,
clothing and hair drenched, clinched.
The bomb has exploded –
now the rain is washing away
the sweat the blood the anger.
We sink down onto the gravel…
we don’t forget to sheath our swords.

Real Toads Bits of Inspiration

This is for Real Toads Bits of Inspiration: Dragonflies. there are all kinds of stories about them, myths. Japan is no different in its stories of dragonflies, especially among the Samurai. The dragonfly helmets are known as the type of armor called kawari kabuto – exotic helmet.

Akitsushima

My lover took the antique helmet out of the case to show me. He explained that it was one of the helmets worn by his Samurai ancestors. I reached out a tentative finger to touch it. A tingle went through me – old times, men long dead, battles fought. It was a dragonfly helmet. I asked why such a fragile thing for a battle helmet design. He laughed.

“Dragonflies are relentless hunters”, he explained. “They can fly forward, they can hover but, they can never move backwards”. I asked again, why such a fragile thing? He laughed at me. “ Have you ever seen a dragonfly hunt? The ancient lords chose such embellishments so they could be easily found on the battlefield. They often chose a motif that they felt described themselves. They are also considered to be far seeing.” I later learned that an ancient deity, while sitting on top of a mountain looked down upon Japan and named it Akitsushima, Island of the Dragonfly -because of the shape of the islands. My lover then took down his katana and said, “Come, it is time to practice.” I did a jaunty step, “Float like a butterfly, hunt like a dragonfly.” He laughed. Years later, I learned that like the dragonfly, I could never go back to that time.

ancient far seer –
the dragonfly hovers –
no going backwards

public image domain

dVerse Poets Pub – OLN #191

Today is Open Link Night (OLN) over at dVerse Poets Pub. Gayle is our host today and sadly, this is her last go as Pubtender. She is an amazing talent and is one of the kindest people around. She will most definitely be missed. I know I will miss her. So come by the dPub and read some excellent poems. Today I am doing a haibun in order to get in on Frank’s prompt last week of writing prose poetry. https://dversepoets.com/2017/03/09/open-link-night-191/

The Samurai and the Sparrow
Hot summer in the South – a feeling of walking around in a bowl of hot oatmeal when one ventures outside. But the air was sweet with magnolia, honeysuckle, night blooming jasmine, roses…my life was obsessed with smells that year. But this Saturday there was to be an exhibition of Kendo; several Hachi-dan Hanshi sparring against each other. I had just started dating a man who was arrogant, thought his long blonde hair made him look like a Nordic badass, and he was also into Kendo, at a higher level than I. He wasn’t great but he was an amusement. One of the men in the exhibition line caught my eye immediately. He was truly one of the most beautiful men I had ever seen. The participants all bowed and when he looked up at the sparse audience, I gasped. He looked me right in the eyes. You could have walked on the bolt that shot between us. The man beside me heard me gasp and looked at me with a frown. “What’s so great about him?” he muttered. I turned and looked at him with a sniff. “Other than he is gorgeous and dressed in a black silk hakama? Other than the fact that he is obviously good?” I had to laugh. My date got up and left. Fine with me.

I watched the Japanese man avidly. He was a bit taller than most Japanese me and he had his hair pulled up into a warriors knot (not those silly “man” buns of today) and in his belt were tucked the two swords – katana and wakizashi. He was carrying daisho – literally “big little” referring to the two swords. Every once in awhile, he would slightly break his concentration and find me in the audience. I shivered. I clearly had an admirer. Why I do not know. I was plain. My long dark hair was worn in a braid down my back, I was wearing glasses. I was under five feet tall – four feet 10 inches. He was gorgeous and moved like a tiger on ball bearings. Swift, graceful, lethal, powerful, passionate. But something in me spoke to him as something in me answered. Do you believe in love at first sight? Never ever put it down. Something started that day that after 35 years still resounds. It is hidden now but it is still there. I heard when he returned to Japan, he never married.

magnolias scent the
summer air – moths come to the
flame – wings become singed

old snapshot taken in Duke U Medical Library

Haibun: Summers Pass

For Poetic Bloomings – we write about lessons learned during a summer.

Summers Pass

We were tied together by summers. We met at a kendo and weapons demonstration. You in your black silk hakama – black on black dragons and your hair in a warrior’s knot and tucked into your obi, I saw you were carrying daisho – big/little – the katana and the wakizashi. My breath stopped in my chest. I was carrying in a duffle, the weapons of the man I was dating – well, third date at this time and to be honest, I had determined this would be the last date. Arrogant and loving to be cruel he wore his long blonde hair in a braid thinking somehow, it made him look like a Nordic badass. You gave a demonstration of the two swords and then began to spar with various partners. But at the end of the day, he rescued me from the badass and won the arms competition. We walked out together and the fairy tale began. Long hot summers together – a garden in the backyard of gravel, boulder, and koi pond and my half filled with veggies and old fashioned flowers. Summers of trips to Japan and sometimes in Europe. Long hot nights of love and hot days of your work in forensics and me licensing engineers. I don’t remember Christmases or Easters or Thanksgiving. I know we had them but it is only the summers I remember.

You taught me the use of the katana and your language. I taught you to fry chicken and make biscuits. East met South. But then you began to feel the call of your home. We talked and argued and argued and talked and the reality was – you had face to lose if you went home. I was not a trophy. I was short and wore glasses and my hair was long, black, and wavy. I was not tall and blonde. We knew you would be reduced to working in small 24 hour clinics. I was a liability. I loved you and I let you go. After you left, I only remember hot summers of being alone – practicing with my sword and meditating. And somehow, slowly healing. And one hot summer, I met a sweet blue eyed Southern man with kind hands and heart. He taught me again to open my heart and love. I still loved you and always will, but I learned to stand on my own again and to believe in myself. And the most important lesson of all, I learned that summer to love again, to open my heart and trust. I do not know the lessons you learned. But I know you never married. I know you dedicate your life to identifying the sad victims of the “Suicide Forest” and that in the Tsunami, you identified victims and returned them home.

summers pass In blurs –
love leaves but love returns and
hearts heal at long last

d’Verse Poetics – Gender Bender Poetry

Kelly is our guest pubtender today. She wants us to do a poem that is a gender bender – for the women to write from the male perspective and the men to write from the female. A couple of years ago, I created a fictional character, a Samurai – Mashashi Kenata. This is a poem about the first anniversary of his marriage to Hoshiko (child of the star). Please come and join us for this very interesting and intriguing prompt.

Onnabugeisha - free wiki image

Onnabugeisha – free wiki image

One Sharp Sword
One year.
The first year.
Masashi had not wanted to marry but he had to.
It was arranged.
The youngest daughter of four,
her father the shogun of the prefecture.
His father had made an excellent bargain for his second son.
Masashi was the second son of the shogun’s number one Samurai –
a perfect merging of class and bloodline.
He remembered the first time he saw her on their wedding day
and how relieved he was at her loveliness.
Her gentle demeanor disguised her true self.
Her quick intelligence – sometimes bawdy humor and
her education, actually better than his.
In their marriage bed she was aggressive and left him
shaken to his core.
He was not surprised when she told him she was carrying
their first child.
He was frightened at first and then proud.
Her loveliness on their wedding day was nothing
to her loveliness now.
She was as glowing and beautiful as the reflection of the moon
on dark still water.
But he was never as surprised when, large with the baby inside her
she told him he would never equal his father in prowess with a sword,
that he was clumsy and flat footed and swung his sword
as if he was swinging a scythe and harvesting rice.
But then, she takes the katana from him
and begins to go through the fighting forms –
light on her feet, strong in her swing,
and quick despite her heaviness.
But when she swung his katana at him and he felt his
kimono belt drift to the floor,
he was most surprised.
She laughed and resheathed the katana in his shi.
Close your mouth husband or you will swallow a fly.

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