Hiroshima

An immense grief anchors this city, tethering Hiroshima to its past. To be here is to carve your emotional real estate bare and lay it in offering. Such tragedy cannot be contained within one person. Hope for peace cannot be contained within one person.

I had not known school children were mobilised during the war and that because of this, so many more had died that day on August 6th, 1945.

I’m sitting here, just having exited the museum. I am sitting on a bench behind the children’s monument where countless paper cranes hang in offering. There will always be an absence in our history, no matter the time elapsed. But peace is the result of a collective hope, cultivated.

 

The cranes collect.

The garden is cultivated.

 

The city moves and yet exists in reverence. I think about the immense pressure the world is bearing and I wonder about negative pressure. How it was a second blow, returning for an encore in a city already devastated.

 

Everything is consequential.

People died, are dying.

Trees grow upward from damaged soil.

Sakura season comes again.

A city rebuilds.

 

 

I am still preparing for the unimaginable. The unspeakable scenes we continue to rehearse each day in this world are enough to fill a person. A class of Japanese school children recite words in unison before offering their paper cranes. Their contribution adds to the collection, filling the row of little clear booths facing the monument.

 

A bell rings.

It resonates.

 

It is not the physical presence of paper cranes but the consciousness of their purpose that imbues me with a pin prick of hope. And that is hope enough.

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Hikari

My dearly beloved, bullet train

I was arrested in car number twelve

From Osaka to Tokyo

You had me at train now departing

I’ve committed to memory

Your clean blue and white lines

They remind me of calmness

And I sat transfixed

As Japan rushed me by

As if handmade, hand sculpted, hand nurtured

By an artist with the most loving caresses

Your countryside embellished

With farms of both rice paddies

And the photovoltaic variety

Greenhouses stitching them together

Your cities vibrant and technicolour

Advertisements of character

Tied in ribbons of rivers lined with sakura

And your mountains stood misty

Hooded and strong in a mask of green

Trees to protect what I know must be true

The earth is beloved, and held room in its heart for bullet trains and dreaminess

My own pulsed and resounded

To the rhythm of your topography

Keeping time with your wind speeds

There was no justice in photography

So I drank instead with my eyes

That I used as I wept to the sunset

The View From Nunobiki or Somewhere Close to There

I see it all

The trees and bushland on the edge of a city skyline,

It is neighboured by a saltwater harbour,

a gateway to the rest of the world,

guarded by the mountainside which draws my breath from me

To rustle autumn leaves and whistle through the branches I will imitate

To reach

Beyond my line of sight —

I see it all.

And yet I reach beyond to find within me the stillness I’ve been missing.

Shinkansen

I am patient zero, catching dream sequences at speeds exceeding three hundred kilometres per hour

My heart does not race

It sings, trembling

For the way the world looks back into me

The high speed whistle soothes

Tunnels blanket me

And window side I catch glimpses of unspeakable scenes:

The trees are serene

The rivers are gentle

The countryside need not scream

For me to listen

To its topography

The land on which I’ve roamed my wearied feet

My shoes worn to the world

I find instead the earth singing back

Each valley a blessing

Each bridge a prayer